‘The Stevens lobby’ needs a hug

‘THE STEVENS LOBBY’ NEEDS A HUG…. This holiday season, it’s important not to forget those who’ve fallen on hard times — like the impressive network of well-paid lobbyists who were dependent on Sen. Ted Stevens (R) of Alaska.

Until recently, there were few better ways to start a lobbying career than by leaving the office of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.

With 40 years of seniority on important Senate committees, Mr. Stevens, a Republican, wielded unrivaled power over industries like fishing, forestry, communications, aviation and the military, steering billions each year to pet Alaskan projects like Eskimo whaling, missile defense and even salmon-based dog treats called Yummy Chummies.

His power made his good will a valuable commodity on K Street, where many lobbying firms are located. During the past five years, just nine lobbyists and firms known primarily for their ties to Mr. Stevens reported over $60 million in lobbyist fees, not including other income for less direct “consulting.” The most recent person to leave his staff to become a lobbyist reported fees of more than $800,000 in just the last 18 months.

So when Alaskan voters narrowly rejected Mr. Stevens’s bid for re-election last month, just days after a jury convicted him of federal ethics violations, it was in some ways like the closing of the plant in a company town.

Yeah, my heart bleeds for the gang the New York Times calls “the Stevens lobby,” which includes whole offices specializing in lobbying the Alaskan.

An email that was making the rounds among Stevens-staffers-turned-lobbyists joked that Alaskans made a terrible mistake. “[Voters] don’t understand the connection between Ted and the way of life they have come to take for granted,” the email said. “For those of us long on the dole, the coming reality will take some getting used to.”

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.