May 01, 2005

How To Do Things With Lobbyists

Best part of the Times Magazine profile of Jack Abramoff today:
Despite some reports to the contrary, Abramoff was not prepared to turn on his Capitol Hill friends, DeLay among them. But there were occasional hints that the knowledge he possesses could indeed be quite damning. At one point, for instance, I asked Abramoff to gauge the influence of lobbyist money in Congress.

''I just don't think members of Congress for the most part sell their votes or their ideology,'' he told me.

For the most part?

''Ahem!'' Lowell [i.e. Abramoff's lawyer] interjected. ''Hold on, hold on.''

Lowell stood and summoned his client from the table. The two men walked to a corner of the room and huddled with their arms around each other. After a minute or two Abramoff returned and sat down.

''I would say the same thing,'' he told me. ''I would say, generally speaking, that's the case.'' Generally speaking, that is.
Ah… do tell. Oh, by the way, I meant to link to this earlier, but The Hill ran a fascinating story a few weeks back that helps explain why so many moderate Democrats voted for the recently-passed bankruptcy bill. Seems Rep. that Joe Crowley (D-NY) had set about trying to re-assert his party's influence in K Street, by rounding up a bunch of Democratic financial-industry lobbyists and then sending them off to shore up Democratic support for the bill. Lobbyists turned out to be quite pleased with this, and "expressed hope that their joint effort on the bankruptcy bill would become a blueprint for future coordination between Democratic leaders and lobbyists."

Now this isn't quite a mirror image of the famous Republican K Street project: in which the GOP leadership basically chooses the key lobbyist positions in Washington, thus ensuring that trade associations and the like will support the broader GOP legislative agenda, all in exchange for various business favors. Nevertheless, it's possible that Crowley's trying to carve out something similar. Now if the end result is that he up drawing in key K Street support for various Democratic health or Social Security initiatives, hey, maybe it will all be worth getting that hideous bankruptcy bill passed. Maybe. Though not likely.
-- Brad Plumer 6:59 PM || ||