THE K STREET PROJECT….Thomas Edsall of the Washington Post provides a brief history of modern lobbying and how it’s evolved since Republicans came to power a decade ago:
The change in standards of what is objectionable versus what is commonplace is suggested by a nearly forgotten uproar nearly two decades ago. On Feb. 3, 1987, newspapers disclosed that then-Sen. Lloyd M. Bentsen (D-Tex.), chairman of the Finance Committee, had set up a “breakfast club” for lobbyists who donated $10,000 to his campaign committee.
The implied bargain ? money for access ? struck many as just too obvious. Three days later, Bentsen ended the breakfasts and acknowledged that his error of judgment had been “a doozy.”
Now, every day Congress is in session, there are lobbyist-organized fundraisers for senators and representatives ? at breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner ? at which the basic transaction is little different than what got Bentsen in hot water.
….The pivotal point in Washington’s changing culture, according to lobbyists and congressional ethics analysts, came in 1995, shortly after Newt Gingrich and his “Republican Revolutionaries” roared to power in the 1994 midterm elections. Tom DeLay, the new majority whip, and his allies began the “K Street Project” ? the pressuring of trade associations and lobbying firms to hire Republican, and to contribute to Republican campaigns if they wanted access to key leaders and committee chairmen in the House.
By the way, the K Street Project has its own website if you’re interested in checking it out. It’s entirely “non-partisan” of course….