Imagine if lobbyists could give virtually anything they wanted to lawmakers, ranging from a gift basket of cookies to a Mercedes Benz.
This isn’t some dark fairy tale. In Georgia, it’s reality. Lobbyists can give virtually whatever gift they want to lawmakers.
But in recent month, a rowdy coalition of tea partiers and progressives have been campaigning to place a modest cap on these gifts that lobbyists can give to legislators — $100 value per gift.
One of the best ways for special interests to influence our lawmakers is to hire former government staffers to get the insider access needed to win legislation and regulation. By passing through the “revolving door,” these staffers are generously rewarded for winning over government favors for private clients, often clients who seek to distort public policy to favor wealthy interests.
This revolving door should be a scandal. But in Washington, it’s simply become normal. The local press there even glamorizes it.
Take this profile of Holly Fechner, the former policy director to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA), in The Hill, …
Bob Byrd is New Jersey’s “top lobbyist,” according to Content Delaware’s John Taylor, which recently interviewed Byrd for its conversational series. Byrd is the CEO of The Byrd Group, a lobbying firm that has worked for the banking industry and the education privatization movement, among other interests.
At one point, Taylor pointed out many of Byrd’s various clients, including the tobacco and alcohol industries. Byrd explained that he decided a long time ago that he would work for the “people who pay” and that he wouldn’t be where he is today if he wasn’t able to pass through the …
Members of Congress who become lobbyists get huge paydays. A dozen lawmakers-turned-lobbyists we looked at got an average raise of 1,452%.
So we sent a letter to the 35 retiring members of Congress asking them to disclose any job negotiations they’re having for their post-congressional careers — so at least the public would know what’s being offered to lawmakers who are still governing our lives.
Representative Martin Heinrich is a Democratic Party member of Congress who is running for Senate this year. On Monday, he blasted the Republican 2013 budget proposal on Twitter, writing that it must have “thrilled” Big Oil:
But the very next day, Heinrich held a fundraiser — where individuals attended at $500 a person and PACs for $1,000 a person — at VH Strategies, a bipartisan lobbying firm.
One of the lobbyists who attended was Bernie Toon. Who is Bernie Toon? According to disclosures filed with the federal government, Toon is a registered lobbyist with a number of corporate clients. One …