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.

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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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