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May 14, 2014

Name of the game: Clout

The defense industry is putting up big money to help ensure that U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin gets re-elected in November. Since early 2013, defense firms and people associated with them have contributed $250,000 to him.

It's not because they necessarily like his views on health care or Social Security, or particularly care that he represents the people of Illinois.

The money came after Durbin's appointment as chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Committee. It's that powerful position, not him, that is the real attraction. Defense firms are hoping their money will buy clout and influence.

This is not a situation exclusive to Durbin or the defense industry. Special interests of all kinds make campaign contributions to elected officials based on their committee assignments. Virtually all politicians take the money because elections are a huge expense.

This is the way the game continues to be played in Washington, like it or not. Despite talk of the need for campaign finance reform, we don't see the rules significantly changing anytime soon. Clout and influence are still for sale.

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