Q: How Much for That Conservative Support? A: $2 Million

Politico.com has the best peek behind the curtain at how the wizards do their lobbying business this morning since those wonderful Jack Abramoff shakedown emails a few years ago.

Politico's Mike Allen reports how the august American Conservative Union - which bills itself as "the nation's oldest and largest grassroots conservative lobbying organization" - put a $2 million-plus pricetag on its offer to support delivery giant FedEx in a pending battle in Washington against its mighty rival UPS. But when FedEx declined to pay for the group's massive mail, internet, radio, and op-ed campaign ACU promptly went over to the other side.

What makes the story a knock-out punch is that Allen has the letters to prove it - and a FedEx spokesman's confirmation that the company passed on the offer.

The legislation dispute involves how FedEx - which is largely nonunion - will be treated under new labor rules pending before the National Labor Relations Board. The company has called the bill a bailout for UPS, whose workforce are members of the Teamsters union.

On June 30, the conservative outfit wrote FedEx that it had "reviewed your concerns ... and we believe we could strongly support your position." [note the "could"].

On July 15, after FedEx failed to pick up the tab for the expensive lobbying assault, the ACU signed onto a letter with several other conservative groups that blasted FedEx for "falsely and disingenuously" labeling the rules change a "bailout" for UPS.

Among those signing onto the pro-UPS letter is Grover Norquist, head of the powerful Americans for Tax Reform -- and one of Abramoff's close allies.

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