When I go into my bank, I’m offered free coffee. It comes from an old Mr. Coffee machine that hasn’t been cleaned for years, and it’s been brewed hours ago, sitting there all day, stewing into an increasingly acrid form. I’m offered a stack of styrofoam cups to choose from, and artificial dairy substitute Coffee-Mate powder.
Trey Gowdy, a Republican congressional candidate from South Carolina, will be getting a different kind of free bank coffee a couple of days from now. This Thursday, Gowdy will attend a campaign coffee, not in South Carolina, where the voters are, but in Washington D.C., where the lobbyists are.
Hosting this coffee will be the Independent Community Bankers of America and the Mortgage Bankers of America. The coffee they’ll be offering to Trey Gowdy and his guests won’t be like the spare and bitter coffee banks usually offer in their lobbies. No, this coffee will be gourmet roasted and freshly ground, served in elegant cups and saucers, with real rich cream available.
The coffee will be free for Trey Gowdy, as a service from the banks, but it won’t be free for his guests. That’s because the guests, coming by mutual arrangement through the banks and Trey Gowdy’s campaign, will be paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for the privilege of being in Gowdy’s company and receiving his attention.
Who can afford to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for a cup of coffee? Why, lobbyists can. So can the representatives of political action committees, who are specifically requested to bring at least one thousand dollars each to hand to Gowdy.
This lavish coddling of Trey Gowdy from the banking industry comes just a year and a half after banks received huge amounts of money in bailouts from the federal government. It also comes as Gowdy calls for the continuation of special tax breaks for wealthy individuals such as bank executives.
It’s not fair to say that Trey Gowdy will only serve the interests of big banks when he is elected to Congress, however. Just 24 hours before his free bank coffee, Gowdy will be having coffee with the lobbyists of the Rhoads Group, a firm that represents international military services corporations.