Wednesday, March 08, 2017

What Would You Do If One Of Your Children Decided To Become A Lobbyist?


The NRCC, the House Republicans' campaign arm, raised $10.5 million in February, a record-- and more than double what they took in last February. (In January the NRCC took in $10 million, also a record and beat a DCCC many Democrats are growing increasingly sick of for it's venality, incompetence and lame leadership. In January the DCCC took in $7.8 million. But one group of donors who still loves the Democrats-- especially the kind of conservative shills who run the DCCC-- are lobbyists. They're always happy to take out their checkbooks for corrupt conservative Democrats-- as well as for Republicans, of course.

Lobbyists give enormous sums to congressional candidates, particularly incumbents on powerful committees positioned to do their clients the most good. The relationship between lobbyists and politicians is the very definition of bribery-- but not the legal definition-- since those same politicians get to define the legal definition in a way that carefully writes themselves and their own corrupt practices out of the scenario. And this is a case where the Democrats aren't any less guilty than the Republicans. They should all be in prison. In 2016 lobbyist bribes to congressional candidates came to an astounding $27,976,646-- $15,200,963 for corrupt Republicans and $12,722,093 for corrupt Democrats. Since 1990 lobbyists have forked over $253,964,816 (of which $206,464,004 went to incumbents)-- $132,895,788 to Democrats and $120,049,954 to Republicans. Hillary Clinton took the most-- by far: $4,264,131-- by of the crooks still serving in Congress, these are the dozen most guilty:
John McCain (R-AZ)- $1,993,823
Patty Murray (D-WA)- $1,514,474
Mitch McConnell (R-KY)- $1,503,635
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)- $1,441,549
Rob Portman (R-OH)- $1,196,186
Ed Markey (D-MA)- $1,190,988
Roy Blunt (R-MO)- $1,131,357
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)- $1,128,250
Robert Menendez (D-NJ)- $1,088,457
Steny Hoyer (D-MD)- $1,070,391
That was since 1990. How about just in the 2016 cycle? Who were the sleaziest of them all?
Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)- $520,041
Marco Rubio (R-FL)- $496,468
Chuck Schumer (D-NY)- $425,472
Paul Ryan (R-WI)- $402,832
Michael Bennet (D-CO)- $396,266
Roy Blunt (R-MO)- $359,407
Rob Portman (R-OH)- $336,413
Patty Murray (D-WA)- $332,477
Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)- $331,934
Richard Burr (R-NC)- $319,453
Patrick Murphy (D-FL)- $298,881
Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)- $258,264
There were only 10 non-incumbents last year who made the big time in lobbyist corruption and most of them lost their races, obvious exceptions being Masto, Hassan, Harris and Gottheimer, all business-friendly "moderate" to conservative Democrats:
Jason Kander (D-MO)- $198,375
Katie McGinty (D-PA)- $190,342
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)- $171,041
Maggie Hassan (D-NH)- $165,924
Kamala Harris (D-CA)- $135,817
Ted Strickland (D-OH)- $122,130
Josh Gottheimer (Blue Dog-NJ)- $117,836
Kathleen Matthews (D-MD)- $108,994
Evan Bayh (D-IN)- $68,900
Lon Johnson (Blue Dog-MI)- $53,775
This week, Kate Ackley wrote a piece for Roll Call about how the slime bag lobbyists are already gearing up for 2018. Except she didn't imply they are slime bag lobbyists, "K Street’s most generous political donors" and she wants you to feel a little compassion for them because they are writing so many checks they are suffering from "fatigue." Poor things. "The 25 biggest lobbyist donors alone," she noted, "gave $5.3 million in the 2016 cycle."

“The changes to the rules have provided for ways to give more, and with lobbyists, there is always a built-in benefit to making political contributions,” said Sheila Krumholz, executive director at the Center for Responsive Politics. “These are investments in their career.”

She sees no reason for a K Street donating ebb in 2018.

Lobbyist Heather Podesta doesn’t either, even though her presidential pick, Hillary Clinton, and some of her preferred Senate candidates lost last year. Her bipartisan firm, Heather Podesta + Partners, has hosted fundraisers this year, as early as January.

She encourages female donors, including those at the beginning of their career, to donate, Podesta said.

“Writing a check or raising funds brings you to the table in a different way than door-knocking does,” said Podesta, whose registered clients recently have included PepsiCo and Uber Technologies. “You’re just more closely connected with issues and people.”

Women, Podesta added, have traditionally been the “doers” of the Democratic Party, organizing and canvassing for candidates. “It’s really time for all of us to step up and be funders as well,” she said.

Democrats received the bulk, almost 60 percent, of donations from K Street’s biggest donors in the 2016 cycle. And very few registered lobbyists gave money to the presidential effort of Donald Trump.

An exception is Van Hipp Jr., a lobbyist with American Defense International who donated $50,000 to the Trump Victory joint fundraising committee. Hipp was among the 20 biggest donors among registered lobbyists in the 2016 cycle.

“I’m probably one of the few in D.C. who got on the Trump train early,” said Hipp, whose registered clients last year included Clemson University. “I wear that as a badge of honor.”

Lobbyists whose candidates were on the losing end, though, say they don’t view it as a bad investment.

“It’s disappointing when people you believe in and that are friends lose, and it has everything to do with the leadership that they won’t be able to exert at this moment,” Podesta said. “I believe strongly in having no regrets and helping good people.”

Democrats will be on defense in the Senate in 2018, when 10 senators are up for re-election in states that Trump won. Republican lobbyists say they are motivated to help expand their party’s 52-48 voting advantage in the chamber, while Democrats believe controversies around the Trump administration could put control of the House in play.

“There is so much energy out there,” said Steve Elmendorf, a Democratic lobbyist and the biggest K Street donor. His clients at his firm, Subject Matter, include UnitedHealth Group and MetLife.

“In ’18 the stakes are very high, and it’s really important to have a check on Trump,” Elmendorf said. “The pressure to give never goes away.”
I know how the remove the pressure. Trump, who famously promised to drain the swamp if got elected, could drain the ultimate swamp with an executive order and a piece of must pace legislation. I bet that would make his sagging job approval rating turn right around. The last time Gallup checked, lobbyists were rated very poorly among Americans. These numbers are from December, 2015:
Very high- 2%
High- 5%
Average- 27%
Low- 35%
Very Low- 25%
Mothers, don't let your babies grow up to be lobbyists. although... Members of Congress were rated about the same. These numbers were for the very end of last year:
Very high- 1%
High- 7%
Average- 31%
Low- 39%
Very Low- 20%

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At 11:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The graphic at the top of the article reminds me of Robert J Ringer's Winning Through Intimidation, which was all about inserting one's self in between two parties and "facilitating" deals while taking from both parties. The book came out during the Nixon/Ford administration, and one might make a good case that is it a motivation for the PAC system which has sprung up from about that same time. "Plausible deniability" was a popular term back then, and such a system as Ringer postulated would have fit in nicely - and grown right along with the politics of greed.

One has to be somewhat amoral and at least non-caring about people to be a lobbyist, which taking advantage of both sides requires. I can't see such people emerging from truly loving families in the first place, so they much come from people who "did the right thing" only because the rabbit died and the courts remained harsh about enforcing parental financial responsibilities.

Fits right in with the rise of official corruption, doesn't it?

At 12:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If my child became a lobbyist, I'd disown. period. wouldn't even have to think twice. Lobbyists are the lowest form of hominid... much, MUCH lower than white Texan, televangelist and Neanderthal.


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