Continuing the Battle
Lobbying is not in and of itself dishonorable. It is a way for a particular interest group to get lawmakers' attention on the differing perpsectives on an issue being considered. The dishonorable part comes when money and special benefits like lunch, or trips abroad, or the use of corporate jets get exchanged for votes. Nancy Pelosi has promised to get tough on such practices and to get new House Rules into effect which will put teeth into that promise.
I am frequently embarrassed by the depths of my naivete, and this is one of those times. Today's Washington Post indicates that K Street has no intention of losing its yank in Congress, and the lobbying industry has not only come up with new ways to get their way, they have found the pols to play along.
The Democrats' takeover of Congress this month has turned official Washington upside down.
Labor and environmental representatives, once also-rans in congressional influence, are meeting frequently with Capitol Hill's incoming Democratic leaders. Corporations that once boasted about their Republican ties are busily hiring Democratic lobbyists. And industries worried about reprisals from the new Democrats-in-charge, especially the pharmaceutical industry, are sending out woe-is-me memos and hoping their GOP connections will protect them in the crunch.
...In addition, in a move that is raising ethical questions, some Democratic lobbyists are planning to take congressional staff jobs, attracted by the chance to wield real clout. [Emphasis added]
How canny is that? If the appointment calendars are closed to lobbyists, then placing someone on the inside should get the job done just as effectively at a lower cost, since these one-time lobbyists are obviously taking a cut in pay.
Despite this focus on gaining access to authority, Democratic congressional leaders have expressed disdain for their predecessors' fealty to "special interests." That is why they are planning an elaborate assault on lobbyists during their first week in session. Through changes in laws and in House rules, Democrats hope to ban lobbyist-provided gifts and travel to lawmakers and to create an Office of Public Integrity to oversee the disclosures that lobbyists must make about clients and fees.
All well and good, but I suggest the ethical concerns be broadened to include this latest end-around and any future attempts to circumvent the news laws and rules.
Labels: K Street