In the wake of numerous Washington influence scandals (DeLay, Cunningham, Abramoff, etc.), Congress has busied itself debating, drafting, and ultimately neutering, legislative proposals to restore fairness and ethics to the troubled institution. However, the targets of these measures have had a rather benign reaction to them. In fact, they don’t seem to think that the new regulations will have any impact whatsoever on their activities.
An article in the Washington Post reports that…..lobbyists say they have already found scores of new ways to buy the attention of lawmakers through fundraising, charitable activities and industry-sponsored seminars. Indeed, the lobbyists themselves tell us as much.
- “Between charitable events and fundraising events, there will still be lots of ways to get in front of members [of Congress].” – Dan Danner, executive vice president of the National Federation of Independent Business (National FIB?)
- “Even if all lunches and sporting tickets are banned, legislation and regulations are so complex that the need for professional lobbyists will not diminish,”- Frederick H. Graefe, a Washington lawyer and lobbyist.
- “If meals are heavily restricted, we’re likely to see executives from the home office picking up checks because they’re not lobbyists,” – J. Steven Hart of Williams & Jensen, a major lobbying firm.
Of particular concern to the netroots is the Post’s revelation that…Lobbyists are increasing their campaign contributions, widening their use of the Internet to stir voter activism, and donating large sums to think tanks and charities…..The Business Roundtable, which represents big-business chieftains, has embraced a new technique of advertising on Web sites for grass-roots advocates. There are those who have belittled the threat of corporations, and other deep-pocketed special interests, using the Internet in deceptive ways to enrich themselves at the people’s expense. But, clearly, the community of professional persuaders has not overlooked this potential goldmine for propaganda.
Did anyone really expect Congress to deal seriously with the 10 billion dollar industry that lines their pockets and campaign treasuries? When the best reform ideas they can muster include banning former members from the House gym, it should be apparent that their efforts are less than sincere. And the fact that lobbyists are greeting these efforts with a yawn tells us everything we need to know about the resolve of Congress to stem abuse and corruption.