It’s the Republican Clearinghouse Award Patrol!:
The phone message on my machine from the NRCC office said that the Congressman [Tom Cole, (R - Oklahoma)] wanted to “recognize me with their highest honor, the Congressional Order of Merit.” It was given to those few select people “in recognition of their undying commitment, patriotic loyalty, and dedication to service to … the United States of America.”
So I called back and talked to a staffer. She said the Congressman wanted me to represent small businessman in my state. She had me listen to a pre-recorded message, in which Cong. Cole sought my help to stop Nancy Pelosi from ruining small businesses like mine. And he wanted to add my name to an advisory committee. Nothing else more would be needed. Just my name, and the Award of Merit would be mine. And I’d get to attend a coveted, big time Congressional banquet.
I informed the staffer that as a journalist who covered congress, that joining a political committee would be a conflict of interest. So I couldn’t do it. She thanked me for my consideration and prepared to say good-bye. I interrupted to ask: “Does that mean I don’t get the Order of Merit?”
“You don’t,” she said. “Only those who join our committee.”
So, the award is only for those who lend their support to the Republican agenda. I’m sure it’s entirely honest and aboveboard, and that everyone does it. I’m also sure that nobody would ever ask for money unless it happened in 2004:
I was notified of this award in a letter that says the Republican party, “wouldn’t be where we are today without you.” Pretty impressive. Of course, there’s a catch…
Now, here’s the catch. In order to be included in The Congressional Order of Merit Register you’re supposed to send them a donation. They don’t get around to this until the last page of the three page letter.
Your past support of President Bush and the Republican Party has been nothing short of heroic. I hope you will continue that work now with a special contribution of $25, $50, $100, $250 or whatever you can afford.
Perfectly understandable. After all, it isn’t like getting a star named after you: Getting your name in the Congressional Order of Merit Register would have helped effect great change in this country.