Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Many Former Congressmen are Tainted

It is rare that I find myself on the side of a liberal lobbying group, but I guess there is a first time for everything.

Hill a Steppingstone to K Street for Some (Account Required at times)

A new study has found that 43 percent of the 198 House and Senate members who left government to join private life since 1998 have registered to lobby. Of the 36 senators who left during that period, half have joined the lobbying ranks.

Members of Congress are able to ensure their own wealth following their government careers. I find the practice almost vulgar.

"Access equals power in Washington, and few people have greater access than a former member of Congress," said Frank Clemente, director of Congress Watch. "We believe the public has the right to know how frequently their elected representatives change their allegiances and become lobbyists."

I would like to know who they are lobbying for as well. Surely a former politician lobbying for a charity would not be quite as disturbing as, say, a former Congressman lobbying for CNOOC Ltd.

Congressional historians say that lawmakers rarely became lobbyists as recently as two decades ago. They considered the profession to be tainted and unworthy of once-elected officials such as themselves.

I still find the practice to be ‘unworthy of once-elected officials’. I find it ‘tainted’ no matter who is doing it.

But that began to change noticeably in the late 1980s. The reasons include sky-high lobbying salaries, a growing demand for lobbying services by industry, heavy turnover in Congress, and a change of control in the House of Representatives a decade ago, which opened the way for a flood of new GOP lobbyists.

Now that doesn’t make sense to me. The change in the House was not until 1994. In addition, that would seem to make more Democrats available, not Republicans.

"Now it's common for members of Congress to become lobbyists and, unlike years ago, there's no shame in making that transition,"

There is 'shame' in it. It's the former members of Congress who have no shame.

Probably because of the new partisan slant of government that year, more than 62 percent of the Republicans who left in 2000 became lobbyists -- 23 of 37 -- while 15 percent of departing Democrats -- 2 of 13 -- did the same.

Well, if we must have lobbyists, I guess I’m fine with the majority of the new ones coming from Republican ranks. Why not toss them all out on their ears though. In true Washington Post style, this article highlights that Republicans have moved into lobbying in greater numbers recently, without showing how many total lobbyists belong to each party.

I personally want them to toss the whole lobbying system out. Bar them from the Capital. In the spirit of populism, why in the heck does some clown with cash get more access to my Representative than I do? My one foray away from the GOP was over this very issue. I fear that since my sect of Republicans, who supported Ross Perot, were rewarded with Bill Clinton, we will never see that again. It is the one area where I almost side with McCain, though I don’t like the way he threw out the First Amendment. Whether it is Big Oil or the NEA, no organization should have that sort of influence over our government. Throw out the lobbyists from both parties, the whole bunch of them.

Note: I find it interesting that a liberal ‘lobbying’ group would create this report. It doesn’t sound like they are opposed to lobbying, just GOP lobbying.

In Sports:

Watching the Nats play the Braves is painful. Though I get to see my favorite pitcher of all times (John Smoltz) pitch, I can’t bare cheering against either team. If you had told me 5 years ago that I would be hoping for a Livan Hernandez win with Smoltz as the opposing pitcher, I might have thrown my drink on you. But since it is for the division lead, and Smoltz won’t take the loss, all I can say is…Go Nats!

Nats 2, Braves 3
Nats walk in the winning run. Braves take over 1st place.