When K Street Lobbyists No Longer Have Connections in Congress
Some influential, well connected, well compensated lobbyists are scurrying to rebrand themselves as their former bosses on Capitol Hill leave Congress. The truth is, even after members of Congress leave, many of their former staff-turned-lobbyists remain just as influential as ever. That’s why conservatives call on the Republican Party to be a party of the people, not of K Street lobbyists, whose influence is more often than not, not in America’s best interest.
Holly Yeager of the Washington Post writes:
The retirement of several powerful members of Congress is being felt across the lobbying industry, in which former staffers who used their ties to the lawmakers to help build businesses are being forced to rebrand themselves or risk becoming irrelevant. The impact is likely to be greatest among tax lobbyists, a K Street specialty that is rich with former aides to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), who this month gave up his post as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee to become the U.S. ambassador to China…. Such shifts are a part of the culture of K Street, where retirements from Congress — and defeats at the polls — can quickly reshape the power structure, increasing the value of some relationships and slashing that of others. Last month, for instance, Capitol Counsel, a leading tax lobbying firm, announced that it had hired Josh Kardon, who spent 17 years as chief of staff to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) 10%, the new chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
While some K Street lobbyists are being forced to rebrand themselves, the problems created by Washington’s Ruling Class remain.
As Heritage Action CEO Mike Needham stated in his Federalist column last month, too many politicians are “unwilling to look Washington’s Ruling Class – the lobbyists on K Street, the consultants around town, and even some members and staff – in the eye and shake things up.” This unwillingness prevents real reform from taking root in Washington.
Instead of ceding all power to K Street lobbyists and others comprising the Washington Establishment, Needham calls on government to “[reinvigorate] society’s core institutions — the family, community, and the private sphere” so that elected officials hear them and serve them better.
It may be debatable how much of a role government has in that goal, Needham suggests, but it’s not debatable the Republican Party needs to be reformed so that it better serves the needs of the American people.
Today’s Republican Party is too often not the party of Lincoln and Reagan but instead of consultants, lobbyists and rent-seekers.
As the Washington Post article illustrates, that’s a very real problem, and remains so even after critical Members of Congress retire:
many lobbyists whose Washington careers began on Capitol Hill have remained influential long after the members they worked for have left the scene.