The poor, disenfranchised lobbyists of Washington have found an advocate. The past few months, the denizens of K Street have had to suffer the embarrassment of multiple scandals. Their poster boy, Jack Abramoff, fell from his perch and pleaded guilty to multiple felonies. So did Rep. Duke Cunningham of California. Tom DeLay continues to fight for his political life along with an indictment for money laundering. And DeLay’s gerrymandered redistricting scheme is also coming under legal scrutiny. Lobbying is coming to be seen as dishonorable and corrupt.
Reformers in and out of Congress are calling for members to refrain from accepting gifts, travel, and even money, from now unwelcome lobbyists. Committees hold hearings; legislation is drafted; Sunday morning talk shows are swamped by ravenous demagogues jonesing for air time. And just when things look bleakest, a champion appears.
Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah has courageously taken up the battle on behalf of this oppressed minority. In a lonely battle for liberty, Bennett expressed concern that strong regulation of lobbyists would violate their First Amendment rights.
“Lobbying is a right, not a privilege,” Bennett said. “It’s there in the Constitution – the right to petition your government.”
Thank goodness there are brave men governing us that will sacrifice themselves to defend the constitution and the weak, downtrodden corporate shills that that document was conceived to protect.