Place-Holding

PLACE-HOLDING….Brian Montopoli writes in the LA Times today about the practice of “place-holding,” in which well-heeled lobbyists pay people to stand in line for congressional hearings. But this isn’t a causal affair where they send one of their interns or secretaries out for a few hours anymore. Inevitably, it’s now become serious business and people wait in line for as long as 48 hours for important sessions:

Two companies control about 80% of the place-holder market: Congressional Services Co. and the CVK Group, which each maintains a list of on-call place-holders. Congressional Services, which was formed in 1993 by a former CVK employee, charges its clients $32 to $40 per hour for each spot in line, and then passes $10 to $15 an hour on to the place-holders.

“We help maximize the time YOU spend on Capitol Hill, so you can spend your time meeting with the right people and attending the right events, instead of spending your time standing in line,” says the Congressional Services website. “But don’t just take our word for it: Compare our fees to YOUR billable hours.”

Your democracy at work.