Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 9, 2010

REPUBLICANS AND THEIR LOBBYISTS.... Before the midterm elections, one of the hallmarks of congressional Republicans' approach to government was to stick as closely as possible to corporate lobbyists.

When Congress worked on a jobs bill, the GOP huddled with corporate lobbyists. When work on Wall Street reform got underway, Republicans huddled with industry lobbyists. When Congress worked on health care reform, they huddled with insurance lobbyists. When an energy/climate bill started advancing, Republicans huddled with energy lobbyists. When choosing candidates for key statewide offices, Republicans even recruited former corporate lobbyists.

But that was before the election. Now, thanks to huge electoral gains, Republicans are riding high on the Hill again, and have some positions to fill. Care to guess who they're hiring?

During his campaign to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate, GOP nominee Ron Johnson accused Democratic incumbent Russell Feingold (D) of being "on the side of special interests and lobbyists."

"After promising voters that he would reform the culture of lobbying in Washington, instead Senator Feingold embraced lobbyists and declared himself to be on their side," a Johnson spokeswoman said at the time.

But after defeating Feingold, Johnson himself has turned to K Street for help -- hiring homeland security lobbyist Donald H. Kent Jr. as his chief of staff.

Johnson is not alone: Many incoming GOP lawmakers have hired registered lobbyists as senior aides. Several of the candidates won with strong support from the anti-establishment tea party movement.

Right, and that strikes me as key. I don't much care if Republicans hire lobbyists; in fact I tend to expect it. It's the larger political/rhetorical context that strikes me as more interesting -- these GOP candidates, hoping to exploit public frustration with the ways of Washington, sold Tea Party zealots quite a bill of goods. This crop of candidates would be "insurgents," and "outsiders," with no use for the entrenched establishment and their corrupt power structure.

And within a month, many of these same candidates are hiring lobbyists to oversee their offices.

In addition to Johnson, Sen.-elect Mike Lee (Utah) has announced that energy lobbyist Spencer Stokes will be his chief of staff. Tea party favorite Rand Paul (Ky.) has hired anti-union lobbyist Douglas Stafford as his top senatorial aide.

In the House, Rep.-elect Charlie Bass (N.H.) has named food industry lobbyist John W. Billings as his chief of staff. Billings was a senior aide to Bass during an earlier stint on Capitol Hill.

Sen.-elect Chip Cravaack (Minn.) has hired former U.S. senator and former lobbyist Rod Grams as his interim chief of staff, though aides have said the posting is probably not permanent. Grams's lobbying clients from 2002 to 2006 included 3M, Norfolk Southern and the Financial Services Roundtable, records show.

Other incoming GOP lawmakers who have recruited staff from K Street include Robert Dold (Ill.), Steve Pearce (N.M.) and Jeff Denham (Calif.). John Goodwin of the National Rifle Association, one of Washington's most powerful lobbying groups, has signed on as chief of staff for Rep.-elect Raul Labrador (Idaho).

And the revolving door between the Hill and K Street spins a little faster.

One wonders if this is what Tea Partiers had in mind.

Steve Benen 2:10 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (15)

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Comments

Republicans getting caught lying or engaging in rank hypocrisy is nothing new - more like expected. The question is, will they EVER pay a price for it?

Have they paid a price for saying no to everything or fillibustering everything? NO!!

Do Republicans pay a price when they get caught visiting prostitutes (Vitter) or paying bribes (Ensign)? NO!!

Will the general public ever learn about the extent of lying about earmarks? Probably not.

Are Republicans worried about getting caught in bed with lobyists. Absolutely not.

In a world where Newt Gingrich can actually still run for president - there is no downside to whatever sorry thing you do.

Posted by: Mark-NC on December 9, 2010 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

Now I see the Dem House is rejecting Obama's Tax Plan on grounds he "rammed it down their throats". Republicans rejected Obama's Healtcare Reform because he "rammed it down their throats".

I'm confused, is this the same Obama that is supposed to be weak and timid? Sounds like he's doin' alot of ramming for a weakling. Or is "ramming" the new euphemism for "we didn't get it our way"?

Posted by: T2 on December 9, 2010 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

As the man said this morning, I am shocked, shocked I tell you to discover there is gambling at Rick's.

Republicans have repeatedly told us before the election that they weren't going to change a thing from the way they did them before.

Divided government means full employment for the lobbyists-Republican and Democrat alike.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 9, 2010 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

...sold Tea Party zealots quite a bill of goods.

Are the lobbyists white? Cuz, then it's OK.

What was sold to Tea Party zealots was that the n***er in the White House was giving THEIR tax dollars to "those" that don't deserve it. All else is water under the bridge for them.

Posted by: Oh my on December 9, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Well to be entirely honest, Obama once promised "No lobbyists" in his administration and he "walked it back" too.

Posted by: tko on December 9, 2010 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

What makes you think that the TPer's give a damn?

The name "TP" says it all: a disposable, tissue-thin means for scrubbing the GOP stink, at least until the next time they get the urge to dump on the public.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on December 9, 2010 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Who knew? Minnesota has three Senators.

Posted by: hoipolloi on December 9, 2010 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Will anyone besides Steve Benen be pointing this out?

Democrats suck at messaging.

Posted by: Okie on December 9, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

iokiar

Posted by: golack on December 9, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Of course they are. Republican politicans know damn well that their base simply doesn't care about blatant hypocrisy.

Posted by: Gregory on December 9, 2010 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Of course the Tea Partiers aren't surprised: there is no "Tea Party" - it's been an AstroTurf scam all along, a front to massively and intensely rally the GOP's aging and dwindling base. But if you mean the poor saps who thought they were voting for a legitimate movement, then, yes, if they were to hear the hard-hitting coverage on Fox exposing the hypocrisy they would be outraged. Luckily for them, Fox news will instead be talking about Anything BUT Repugs being big, fat, hypocritical, lying, corporate whores.

Posted by: ManOutOfTime on December 9, 2010 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, does anyone believe Summers and Geithner aren't lobbyists for Wall Street? Where is Paul Rubin, their mentor, at these days?

Posted by: tko on December 9, 2010 at 2:44 PM | PERMALINK

Over at RedState, they're complaining that the Republicans are already selling them out.

Posted by: Mark on December 9, 2010 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, That's Robert Rubin not Paul.

Posted by: tko on December 9, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

"Over at RedState, they're complaining that the Republicans are already selling them out."

You can bet that they're NOT worried about Republicans selling them out by hiring corporate lobbyists and pursuing earmarks!

They don't care that Republicans are blowing a HUGE hole in the deficit with massive tax cuts for the top 2%.

They're worried Republicans will "sell them out" by agreeing with Obama on a "deal" to renew the Bush tax cuts.

That's why I'm stunned Republicans are agreeing to any deal -- their base will simply be angry they agreed with Obama about anything -- no matter what it is.

They only time they would be happy is if Republicans managed to pass something over Obama's veto. THEN they could be sure it wasn't a "sell out."

Posted by: Cugel on December 9, 2010 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK
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