U.S. Representative Mike Conaway sets a clear standard with which to evaluate his actions in Washington D.C. “As a Member of Congress, my ability to serve my constituents is only as good as my integrity,” he says.
Voters back in the 11th congressional district of Texas may be questioning Congressman Conaway’s ability to serve his constituents, then, as they find out about the large amounts of money that Conaway is taking from Washington D.C. lobbyists.
A case in point in Conaway’s relationship with the lobbying firm Valente and Associates. Conaway got a check from Mark Valente the Third, who listed his income in the generic category of “self/investments”. Mr. Valente may indeed have a large collection of Wall Street investments, but he also works in a very specific industry: Treating the American government as a investment opportunity for corporate clients.
Mark Valente is a lobbyist. He’s president of the lobbying firm Valente and Associates.
Now, it just so happens that, on the very same day that Mark Valente gave money to Michael Conaway’s re-election campaign, the Director of Administration for Valente and Associates also gave exactly the same amount of money to Conaway.
Among the many corporate clients of Valente and Associates is the North American Coal Corporation. Conaway’s congressional record just so happens to include support for big government spending on programs specifically targeted to benefit the coal industry. Conaway has also been a strong opponent of efforts to control the pollution that results from the mining of coal, burning of coal, and storage of toxic coal waste ash.
Mark Valente is not a constituent of Congressman Conaway in the usual understanding of constituency. He lives in a suburb of Washington D.C. Yet, Valente has purchased an honorary constituency in Conaway’s office in the way traditionally employed by lobbyists: He’s paid money in exchange for political access.