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Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets
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Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  359 ratings  ·  51 reviews
A bombshell investigation reveals how Washington really works: politicians extort money from us, then use it to buy each other’s votes. Best-selling author Peter Schweizer reveals:*Obama’s "Protection Money": How the Obama Administration targeted industries for criminal investigation but chose not to pursue key political donors.*John Boehner’s "Tollbooth": How the Speaker ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published October 22nd 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2013)
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Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone knows Washington is corrupt, but to what extent? Here, Schweizer shows how nefarious our politicians are by exposing the mafia-like tactics they use to enrich themselves and their family and friends. The people charged in this book with corruption include, but are not limited to, Chuck Schumer, Roy Blunt, Harry Reid, John Boehner, Theodore Roosevelt, Ron Paul, Maxine Waters, and Barack Obama. Schweizer may be a conservative but he holds no punches back with both parties.

Edit (8/6/20): I
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
As long as we've had active politics we've had bribery, or the possibility of bribes. A bribe says "let me give you something valuable in the hopes you'll do me a favor, Powerful Person. For example, I might give you an envelope full of twenties / a new library for your college / a huge campaign contribution if you'll give me in return (although the "quid pro quo" may be unstated): a construction permit / entry for my semi-qualified son into your Freshman class / favorable legislation."

But in t
Ben Batchelder
Mar 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a book to read and weep. It tells the devastating and documented story of how politicians of both parties have corrupted Washington, D.C. and undermined our delicate republic. These days, not only do the Power Pols (those in the Legislative & Executive Branches) routinely exempt themselves from the sprawling laws they impose on us (Obamacare, most recently), but take gleeful advantage of exemptions from security laws (among others) to trade on insider information. While its premature dea ...more
Jul 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Pockets by Peter Schweizer

"Extortion" is an interesting expose of how politicians extort money, legally. Research fellow, consultant and author, Peter Schweizer provides a well-referenced account of how the members of the Permanent Political Class profit handsomely from such practices. This troubling 256-page book includes the following ten chapters: 1. Introduction, 2. America’s Most Expensive Tollbooth, 3. Protection: for
Jan 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
Good points, not great writing. There's a lot of information, but it's somewhat repetitive and disorganized, and his points don't always follow from his evidence. Still, four stars for being an important book. ...more
Jacob O'connor
Nov 04, 2013 rated it liked it
I don’t have a lot of faith in politics. I'm not surprised when there's a scandal. Friends will often point to a dirty politician from my party. I don’t have a reaction. I have zero expectation that these guys are going to be paragons of goodness.

By all means, read this book and be outraged. Schweizer goes after democrats and republicans alike. The problem is systemic. Politics has evolved in such a way that favors, bribery, and yes extortion, are simply the way things get done. I'm not convinc
Miles Fowler
Feb 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
A disturbing book. It tells you everything you knew was true about government corruption but were afraid to admit. The trouble with government is NOT that this party or that party is in control and is doing wrong, but rather it is that both parties are corrupt and playing their voter bases for fools. Democrats might think that corporations should be regulated and that their political leaders are dedicated to doing just that. Republicans might think that corporations are already overregulated and ...more
Carol Menges
Dec 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in understanding what's going on in government.
Recommended to Carol by: I read about it and heard an interview with the author on the radio.
This is a grim exposé. Any residual hopes I had that extortion was not quite as endemic—even expected—at any government level, especially the federal, were wiped away. It's hardly even necessary today to pretend otherwise among those in Congress and the Executive Branch who practice it. The deal, though, is to maintain a sliver of respectability while hiding behind a wall of obscure objectives that only staffers who wrote them understand. It's also important to pretend honesty while wringing dry ...more
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, fiction-non
Can you believe that politicians use their held office to suggest legislation and call votes in order to shakedown corporations to pay into their campaigns, and PAC's? That's the case presented by the author.

What if just by saying you're going to take a look at financial regulation resulted in obtaining money from pro or anti regulation "constituents"? How hard would it be to not do that?

What if there was a two party system that was always contrary?
money would always be flowing, wouldn't it?

Gerry Claes
Dec 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Everyone assumes that it is the lobbyists who are throwing money at politicians in order to encourage them to pass favorable legislation and spending. The reality is that in most cases it is the politicians who are extorting money from the lobbyists in order to line their own pockets or to finance their agenda. All a politician has to do is to propose a bill that favors or punishes a particular industry. Then the politician just sits back and waits for the lobbyists to come calling with pockets ...more
Charles E.
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There is a fine line between bribery and extortion; especially when the transaction is unspoken and not asked for in words. If you own a business and a Mafia type comes in and says "Nice business you have here, it would be a shame if something happened to it" and not another word is spoken, just a transfer of cash, was that extortion? Those are the questions that Peter Schweizer examines.

We frequently hear people complain about big-monied corporations "buying" politicians to gain political favo
Shirley (stampartiste)
Sep 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What an eye-opening book! It sure explains why Congress is so tone-deaf to the opinions and petitions of their constituents. As the author reveals in detail, there was a time when those in Washington (he terms them the Permanent Political Class) enriched themselves while pretending to serve their constituents. No more. The masks are off, and they don't even pretend to listen to those who elected them. Their main focus is the acquisition of continually more money and power. The author is quick to ...more
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As a friend of a friend would say, "I despair." Campaign contributions. Fundraising parties. Nepotism. Money sloshing around in Washington buying votes or favorable treatment. Only the tip of the iceberg one finds after reading this book. The corruption that takes place in Washington is beyond one's imagination. It seems something that only takes place in a third world country. Where are the people rioting in the streets because of Washington corruption as we see in those countries? The author, ...more
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Recommended by a friend and business colleague, I wanted to educate myself about our political system. It is that, walloping my ideas of how money moves in Washington, with our representatives pulling the strings and being mostly self-serving, not serving the greater good. Teeth gnashing, and i'm not sure the entrenched interests will ever do anything to change this system--they themselves would have to vote to change the system that enriches themselves. ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading before signing up to vote. It starts where Throw Them All Out left off, recapitulating that book in the first chapter, about milker bills (bills not designed so much to do anything as designed to convince an industry to send in money so that the bill won’t pass).

Schweizer turns the problem of corruption around, and in doing so makes it much easier to understand and to combat. Bribery always seems so complicated and sometimes even pointless. Bribes seem to go
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Regardless of party affiliation, if you are concerned with the political ruling class, and how they do nothing for the people of the country or the country itself, and seem more concerned about holding endless hearings than actually governing or passing a budget this book is for you.

In fact, this book should be required reading for every high school government student and every citizen in this country, particularly if you exercise your right to vote.

I highly recommend this book.
Michael Frederick
Nov 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book provides insight into the power the US government and elected officials use over businesses and associations to generate campaign donations, jobs after they step down, and income for their family members. It is wye opening and makes a good case for term limits and other means to limit the influence of elected officials.
Rhonda Sue
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very good read-but sickening to see how truly corrupt the political system in Washington, DC is. Ever hear of a "milker bill?" If not, I recommend you read this book and get educated. I recently heard this speaker at an event and he was gracious to give out free books and to sign them. He's a brave guy! ...more
Gregory Tanico
Apr 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
A great book. I knew it was bad in Washington but i didn't know how bad. There are very good reasons why so many people in congress, as well as their families and friends are filthy rich. Both parties are at fault though the chapter on Harry Reid is classic. I'm looking forward to his book Clinton Cash ...more
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book makes me ill! If only a small percentage of these facts are true, we are in deep!!! This is definitely a strong argument for term limits. I pray our country is not lost to the professional politician.
Justin Powell
Nov 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Could have, or should I say, should have been a bigger book. The topics that were covered could have been elaborated on more. And at times, I felt like the book was a little partisan (no, I didn't vote for Obama and no, I'm not a registered Democrat. Most of the was within the Obama era. ...more
Jan 24, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a pretty easy read, if a bit disheartening.

"Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” - attributed to John Godfrey Saxe ( although often attributed to Otto von Bismarck"
Malin Friess
May 30, 2014 rated it did not like it
Even for a somtimes political cynic like myself, I found this book far too negative and absolutly depressing. I do believe our politicians and political process with its failures still believes in the common good of the people.

1 star. Not worth a read.
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I had no idea it was that bad. Schweizer did a great job covering the subject and making it interesting. I would agree with each one of his last suggestions and changes we need to make to the law.
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A sickening view of government corruption. Heaven help us and our children.
Brian Morgan
Well written book, makes you want to vote everyone out of office every year.
Scott Saari
Dec 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
Well documented and fairly even-handed exposure in detail how congress makes individual money from leadership PACs.
Robert Sparrenberger
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Can we start over in Washington? After reading this we sure need to. I'm in the wrong job. I need to be a consultant for all of this congressional nonsense. Quick short read with lots of examples. ...more
John Venable
Apr 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sad tale of how the Political Machine is still alive and kicking. We'll written, thoroughly footnoted, and utterly depressing. ...more
Aaron Hohenbrink
Aug 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Scary what goes on in Washington. A revealing book that provides both the problems and some potential solutions. That is if you could ever get Congress to vote to police itself.
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PETER SCHWEIZER is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. From 2008-9 he served as a consultant to the White House Office of Presidential Speechwriting and he is a former consultant to NBC News. He has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, National Review, Foreign Affairs, and elsewhere. His books include The Bushes, Reagan's ...more

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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
13 likes · 6 comments
“Those who wonder why the American tax code is so complex, convoluted, and constantly changing fail to appreciate what a wonderful tool it is for extortion.” 4 likes
“Eliminating politicians’ ability to raise money while in session would force them to devote their time exclusively to their job: lawmaking.” 3 likes
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