I’ve supported the Center for Public Integrity for quite a while. They’re one of those “boring” watchdog bodies whose staff does all the nitty-gritty that our lapdog journalists are above. Most times, when you learn of some investigative reporting on network TV or rolled out from the AP — it was initiated by the hardworking staff at the CPI.

Here’s their report on lobbying in Washington — from last April.

Special interests and the lobbyists they employ have reported spending, since 1998, a total of almost $13 billion to influence Congress, the White House and more than 200 federal agencies. They’ve hired a couple thousand former government officials to influence federal policy on everything from abortion and adoption to taxation and welfare. And they’ve filed—most of the time—thousands of pages of disclosure forms with the Senate Office of Public Records and the House Clerk’s Office.

Special interests routinely spend far more on lobbying each election cycle than they do contributing to politicians and political parties. In the 2002 election cycle, the most recent for which complete data exists, the Federal Election Commission reported that $1.6 billion was raised. In that same time period, lobbyists received in payment $4 billion to press their case before the government. In 2000, the last presidential election for which complete data exist, those numbers were $2.3 billion for elections compared to $3.5 billion for lobbying.

Yet the resources devoted to tracking Washington’s political mercenaries and the billions they are paid to influence the decisions of members of Congress and executive branch officials is minimal. The Senate Office of Public Records employs 11 people, and the equivalent House office employs fewer than 35. By contrast, the FEC, which has authority to enforce campaign finance laws, has 391 employees and an annual budget of $52 million.

That may explain why one in five of the companies lobbying the federal government have failed to file one or more disclosure forms required by law. In all, there are 14,000 missing lobbying documents that should have been filed with Congress since 1998, including documents disclosing the activities of 49 of the top 50 lobbying firms.

Since 1998, 79 members of Congress have appointed lobbyists as the treasurers of their campaign committees or leadership PACs. There are 39 sitting members of Congress who currently have lobbyists at the helm of such committees. Lobbyists have also been treasurers for major presidential contenders, including Al Gore’s 2000 campaign.

My personal opinion ends up being something like a Plague on Both Your Houses — that’s both houses of Congress and the two institutional parties. I suppose bipolar partisan politics will remain the order of the day until and unless Americans get up on their hind legs and throw all the bums out of office.

  1. The problem is not so easily stated. Lobbyists are people who are working for, we the people, like it or not. They are funded by voters and companies (most of whom have shareholders that are, again, American voters).

    I find it interesting: the actions of Lobbyists, who use the monies paid by voters, are being investigated by a body (CPI) that is funded by donations made by … you guessed it: voters.

  2. Mike says:

    Two things that I think would make a world of difference in eliminating a great deal of the corruption in Washington:

    Only idividuals are allowed to give to political campaigns. Corporations, unions and other organizations should not be giving money to politicians. They are artificial constructs anyway, and do not have the natural rights of individuals. People should be able to give as much or as little of their personal wealth to another for any purpose; this includes running for elected office. It’s absurd to me that because many politicians can’t be trusted, they create laws to take away the property rights of everybody else.

    Eliminate the jockeying, by lobbyists, for tax incentives and deductions by eliminating the income tax system all together and replacing it with a single federal retail sales tax. Everybody pays an equal percentage for the goods and services they consume. The FairTax plan even provides every household with a monthly prebate to offset the tax payd for essential items up to the poverty line.

  3. gquaglia says:

    Funny how you only used republicans in your picture. Seems to me democrats are as much to blame and are just as willing to take the money, but I forgot this is a Bush bashing, anything right of the extreme left hating blog.

  4. Sounds the Alarm says:


    We “lefties” are using an old neocon trick with the Duhbya. See we’re pounding him on issue after issue, blaiming him for everything etc. Usually its unfair, but Duh is so stupid that most things ARE his fault (“you’re doing a hell of a job there Brownie”).

    Its a good tactic – you facist republican neocons used it first on Clinton.

    You do know that Abramoff and his partner were one of the leading impeach Clinton people?

  5. site admin says:

    Only used Republicans in the picture? There are Democrats left? What Democrats would you suggest. Please get your photoshop out and help us out!!

  6. gquaglia says:

    “Only used Republicans in the picture? There are Democrats left?”

    Weird, last time I checked the Senate was just a few senators under 1/2 Democrats. And if you don’t think any of these jokers don’t do the same thing then you have been living under a rock.

  7. Synclair says:

    Well in Washington DC there is plenty of sleazy politicians on both sides who’ll take money wherever it comes from:


    Democrats Benefited from Abramoff Contributions, Too

    “The National Republican Senatorial Committee said Wednesday that 40 of 45 members of the Senate Democrat Caucus have taken money from lobbyist Jack Abramoff, his associates and Indian tribe clients. ”

    “Among those named by the NRSC as the worst examples of “Democrat hypocrisy” for taking money from Abramoff and his associates are: Sen. Byron Dorgan, (D-N.D.) who received at least $79,300; Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who received at least $45,750; Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who received at least $68,941 and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who received at least $6,250. ”


  8. Moss says:

    I wonder if I’m the only Commenter who actually read the linked article — or has followed this trend for more than a couple of sound bites. Folks, this particular wave of corruption is directly traceable to the days of Newt the Snewt and his Posse Comitatus. Congress was sitting around in fear of another Abscam till then. The “new Republican” majority handed over mainstream power to creeps who could care less about the checks and balances of our constitutional system.

    Did Democrats participate? Of course. Do you think they were much different from the usual political slime who infest Washington. Do you think they’d pass up a chance to feed at the trough constructed to slop right-wing hogs.

    The historic point remains it was a Republican-controlled Establishment that built this edifice of shame. Whining about the hangers-on doesn’t eradicate guilt. I wish I could believe it was some sense of “fairness” that prompts these protestations — and not nebbish attempts to lay off some of the guilt.

  9. gquaglia says:

    “The historic point remains it was a Republican-controlled Establishment that built this edifice of shame”

    You have got to be kidding me, do you really believe Republicans wrote the book on coruption. Tamity Hall, the corupt political machine of boss Tweed(a democrat) come to mind and that was in the 1800’s, Then there is Dan Rostenkowski from the house of reps, pardoned by Clinton I may add. Then there is Clinton himselft, travelgate, whitewater, and the pardoning of Mark Rich, who has recently been linked to funding terorrists. Politics on both sides of the fence are corupt, to make the absurd statement that Republicans invented it and the poor democrats just went along with it shows that you have no concept of the world of politics outside your own little left wing concept of it.

  10. MV says:

    A few months ago, I was looking at the USAID 2001 yellowbook and found that the Freedom House got nearly $2 billion to spend in Ukraine. This kind of money was not available for even the poor countries of Africa. I asked Freedom House for information – no response. It was however the Center for Public Integrity which confirmed that neither US government nor Freedom House were authorised to spend this kind of money in Ukraine.


  11. Smith says:

    Getting worked up over corruption in Washington is like stressing out over crabgrass in your lawn, weeds in your garden, or the neighbor’s dog shitting in your yard: You can clean it up, but it’s gonna happen again.

    As long as my representative remembers who he works for, I don’t really care how much he clips from some lobbyist. Generally, I’m in favor of tax breaks and special considerations for business. I believe that when business prospers, people prosper. (I do make a distinction between business and CEOs — they are not the same.)

    But a politician should NEVER, EVER side with business against the consumer. My own (dis)Honorable Senator Orrin Hatch sold out to the RIAA for the price of a few lame songs he wrote. I hope we kick the bum out next election; I know the RIAA bribe is going to be an issue for him. My former governor, Mike Leavitt (now the head of Health and Human Services), sold out to the local utility companies — his father owned stock in the gas company. I shed not tear when that Judas left to go work for Bush.

    Nope, I don’t really care if politicians pad their pockets. But businesses don’t vote, people do. Remember who you work for.

  12. GregAllen says:

    The money is politics issue is so serious that I would EAGERLY support a constitutional amendment to fix it.

    BILLIONS in lobbying and campaign contributions are ruining our very democracy. It’s not a left or right issue… it’s all gone rotten.


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