In ‘The Swamp,’ Influence Peddling Continues Unabated

In ‘The Swamp,’ Influence Peddling Continues Unabated


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Janet Ybarra
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp,” which became a metaphor for cutting the influence of lobbyists and special interests on the federal government.

Of course, like so many of his other promises on the campaign trail, this one was just so much more snake oil.

Influence peddling has only grown rampaciously during the Trump administration.

Indeed, according to a recent report in the publication Quartz, undo influence on government may have now infected the third branch: the Supreme Court.

In and amongst all of the cocktail parties and and rubber-chicken dinners where the lobbying set often ply their trade, the head of the conservative organization National Organization of Marriage (NOMA) tweeted a photo of himself with justices Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito and boasting of a “great day” at the high court, according to the article.

This bonhomie and coziness is worrisome because NOMA currently has business in front of the court: it has filed against a ruling that Title VII, an anti-discrimination statute, protects gay and transgender people.

Did the head of NOMA improperly influence the justices, even subtly?

The fact is that lobbyists and lobbying represents big business in the nation’s capital.

It gets particularly problematic as former members of Congress and their staff members, when they leave office, frequently immediately trade on their public service for a new and highly lucrative career in lobbying.

Moreover, they often skirt regulations intent to keep them from at least lobbying immediately by using such titles as “strategic adviser.”

These days Democrats known as the “Squad,” make headlines, including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, and Ayanna Pressley, of Massachusetts.

But what of the lawmakers they defeated last year, each on her way to office?

We can tell you.

Democrat Joe Crowley, Ocasio-Cortez’s predecessor, now works as a lobbyist for Squire Patton Boggs, a major Washington firm. Likewise Pressley’s predecessor, Democrat Michael Capuano. He’s a lobbyist at Foley & Lardner.

Lest you want only to blame Democrats, Republican Barbara Comstock of Virginia joined Baker Donelson, et al, as a lobbyist, and Republican Carlos Curbello of Florida reports having taken on the Cannibis Trade Federation as a lobbying client.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. It’s just an example of the “revolving door” on Capitol Hill, and the fact that it is a bipartisan problem.

We encourage you to visit Data on Campaign Finance, Super PACs, Industries, and Lobbying to learn more about how big money is corrosive to our politics and government.

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