LOBBYING TOPS $3.47 BILLION IN 2009. 250 PERCENT MORE THAN IN 1999.
The ability of individuals, groups, and corporations to lobby the government is protected by the right to petition in the First Amendment. Unfortunately, unless average American citizens group together and raise millions of dollars, they will have little to do with the outcome of elections.
Money Wins Elections: It’s money that elects the politicians through expensive TV ads and well paid professional advisers. Lobbying firms and special interests supply the campaign money. Candidates with the most money win 96 percent of the time. These special interests, such as drug companies, financial institutions, and lawyers, later reap their rewards by getting favorable votes from their ‘bribed’ politicians. The practice is unregulated. It is barred by neither House nor Senate rules.
Lobbying Firms: According to opensecrets.org, there were 13,754 lobbyists making payouts and granting perks to our elected members of congress in 2009. There are seven drug lobbyists for each member of congress. Our politicians depend on this tainted money and would sell their souls to remain in perpetual power. In addition to campaign contributions to elected officials and candidates, companies, labor unions, and other organizations spend billions of dollars each year to lobby Congress and federal agencies. Many of these lobbying firms are located along Washington’s legendary K Street just blocks from the Capital; others have lobbyists working in-house.
The “Revolving Door”: After retiring from many years as members of congress, politicians use their vast knowledge of the political system to go through the “Revolving Door” for a lucrative career as a lobbyist. Since 1998, 43 percent of the 198 members of Congress who left government to join private life have registered to lobby using the ‘revolving door of influence’. These rapacious politicians have also used their influence to create lobbying firms or jobs for their families and friends. Many staff members of congressmen also use the “Revolving Door” to become lobbyists using their wisdom of the ‘system’.
Bob Livingston: On December 19, 1998, Rep Bob Livingston acknowledged charges that he had had an affair and stepped down as Speaker-elect and subsequently retired after 22 years in the House. He formed the lucrative Livingston Group, L.L.C. in March, 1999, just 3 months later. The Livingston Group has over 80 special interest clients and works with an extensive network of over 40 principals - including Republican and Democratic former Members of Congress.
Billy Tauzin: Soon after twisting arms in the House for a vote to pass the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill. Rep Billy Tauzin retired and was offered a job at PhARM, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, to become the new president and CEO of the drug industry’s top lobbying group at a reported $2 million per year. Tauzin received more than $218,000 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical manufacturers over the 15 years prior to his resignation. Public Citizen called for an investigation into whether U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.), who had a key role in writing the Medicare prescription drug law, broke House ethics rules when negotiating a lucrative job with the drug industry’s top lobbying group. Tauzin is said to have had a role in protecting the drug companies from ‘price control’ in Obama’s new Health Care Law.
Sen J, Bennett Johnston: After 24 years in the senate. Johnston retired and started his own lobbyist firm.
Family ties: House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert’s son Joshua is a lobbyist for technology companies; Hastert was active on technology issues. And California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer’s son Doug works for a lobbying firm representing clients that have sought her help in Congress on tribal and airport issues.
BellSouth also hired a pair of lobbyists distinguished by their family trees: John Breaux Jr. son of Sen John Breaux, and Chester T “Chet” Lott Jr, son of Sen Trent Lott. Soon, the sons and their firms began banking thousands of dollars per month in BellSouth consulting and lobbying fees. In Breaux Jr.’s case, the total surpasses $280,000; in Lott’s, $160,000, records show.
The Tea Party movement is a sign that Americans are beginning to wake up to the corruption of our politicians and our electoral system and are becoming individual thinkers. We must see past the expensive campaign ads, the well produced TV spots, and start looking at the individual candidates. We can’t be suckered in by those who have brought America to the brink of disaster. We have only one more chance to save America. Vote all the bastards out in November 2010!
I wish to thank opensecrets.org/ for assistance in researching this article.