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The Democrats came back to the majority in both chambers of Congress in good part due to their ability to tie Republicans to lobbying scandals and petty (and not so petty) corruptions. Nancy Pelosi promised to "clean up Congress" as one of her top priorities when she takes the gavel in January. Apparently, that leaves her a few weeks to let the Democratic caucus to cozy up to lobbyists:
Democrats may be promising a clampdown on lobbyist freebies once they take control of Congress. But ahead of that push, party leaders are collecting lobbyists' checks, while Democratic staffers angle for jobs inside their well-appointed offices.Verizon Communications Inc. earlier this week sponsored a reception for newly elected Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill. Illinois Democratic Rep. Melissa Bean was the beneficiary of a Tuesday night fund-raiser in the new Capitol Hill offices of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In addition to retiring Ms. Bean's debt, Chamber Political Director Bill Miller said the reception was a chance for corporations and lobbyists who didn't back her re-election to "meet her and see what a great representative she is."
Yesterday, Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel, mastermind of the Democrats' House takeover, accepted donations at Sonoma, a trendy Capitol Hill restaurant that features California cuisine to match the wine list, for his leadership committee, a type of account employed by ambitious lawmakers to make donations and curry favor with their colleagues.
Separately, Moses Mercado, the Democratic National Committee's deputy executive director, will soon be joining the Federalist Group, a lobbying group with close ties to the White House that went bipartisan about a year ago. Mr. Mercado "can help our clients deal with the new majority on Capitol Hill," says Wayne Berman, the Republican founder of the firm. Senior aides to incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also have been snatched up by lobbying shops, while Democratic lobbying firms, largely frozen out in Washington for years, are being courted by dozens of new potential clients.
So much for breaking the links between lobbyists and legislation. Now the Democrats have started to hedge their statements and initiatives, promising to clamp down on those lobbyist favors like freebies to sporting events and expensive meals. They don't plan to do much about campaign donations -- and the parties this month will come before the end of the midterm cycle. That means the Democrats can collect all sorts of contributions during the Christmas party season, and the slate will be clean after the start of the new session on January 4th.
Political Money Line makes it clear that the Democrats have their eye on a large pot of gold with their embrace of the lobbying community. As of October 18th, political action committees had $280 million still unspent in the midterms, money that will have to get disbursed before the end of the midterm cycle at the New Year. That money will flood to the party in power, filling the coffers of newly-elected incumbents and putting challengers at a disadvantage even before the freshman take the oath of office.
Lobbyists have their calendars booked. They began receiving e-mailed invitations to "debt-reduction receptions" shortly after the election, and those invitations come with hefty price tags. Those wishing to "co-host" the event have to pony up $15,000 each, while mere guests only have to plop $2,500 down onto the table. Republicans have also set up a few of these receptions as well, but the lobbysists understand where their presence is more required -- as well as their cash.
I recall that more than a few people offered the opinion that Democrats could hardly be worse than the Republicans on lobbying corruption. I guess we just found out how wrong that would be.Sphere It View blog reactions
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Remember Reform?Ed Morrissey The Democrats came back to the majority in both chambers of Congress in good part due to their ability to tie Republicans to lobbying scandals and petty (and not so petty) corruptions. Nancy Pelosi promised to clean [Read More]
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» Remember Reform? from Bill's Bites
The Democrats came back to the majority in both chambers of Congress in good part due to their ability to tie Republicans to lobbying scandals and petty (and not so petty) corruptions. Nancy Pelosi promised to "clean up Congress" as one of her top prio... [Read More]
Tracked on December 7, 2006 1:32 PM
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