For the few of you that don’t believe that corruption exists in the federal government look no further than Jack Abramoff. It’s becoming more and apparent that Mr. Abramoff has handed millions of dollars to various people in the government. Mr. Abramoff is a lobbyist, and lobbyists are paid to get politicians to vote a certain way or meet with people. While the corruption in these cases are as obvious, as say the Trucks for Hire scandal in Chicago or under the table money exchanges, it’s hard to ignore the amount of money changing hands. In the article, Abramoff asked for 9 million bucks to set up a meeting between the President of Gabon and W (what anyone does with 9 million dollars to set up a meeting is beyond me, but I'm sure it some how features pay offs, nice dinners, maybe a few iPods, and a trip to a strip club or ten). One has to wonder where and to whom that 9 million bucks goes to… any doubt that more than a few people in DC see that money?
And this goes back to my desire for a bit of time now… something has to be done about lobbyists and lobbying. It’s getting out of control. Just walking around K Street (trust me, I do it almost every day) you can see the white guys in suites talking in low voices looking like 36 year olds at a high school dance. The sooner there are limits on placed on lobbying the better. In many ways lobbying is becoming legalized corruption. And lobbyists in DC has more than doubled since Bush has taken office* according to the Washington Post. And maybe the scariest thing of all is the flow of people in the public sector moving into the private sector, the most obvious example being Ed Gillespie. Gillespie was the chair of the RNC just a year ago, today he’s a lobbyist.
Of course my biggest problem with lobbying and lobbyist is that no one is looking out for the little guy. No one is lobbying for the poor or the homeless or the unemployed. There’s just no money there. Lot of morals, but no money in lobbying for the most needy.
So what’s to be done? Obviously, if Congress stepped in and set some limit, but odds are that would never stand considering that I’m sure someone would argue, and win, that it’s a violation of ones first amendment rights. The best way to stop these lobbyists is to ignore them. If elected officials and their staff on the Hill can ignore the numerous phone calls and lunches… well we might have something here. But these are politicians we’re talking about. Most are in it for the power. So many until a really big scandal hits, one where someone on the Hill or in the White House takes money from a lobbying firm, we won’t see anything done. And that’s a shame because the very nature of lobbying is anti-democratic.
*VFLOAB would love to blame Bush for that, but some how we haven't figured out how yet... unless of course we just do the tired old "because it's Bush!"