BOEHNER GETS BY WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM HIS (LOBBYIST) FRIENDS…. Given the larger political environment, it’s tempting to think political leaders would try to avoid being overly cozy with corporate lobbyists. Even for those members of Congress that serve as little more than K Street lackeys, there’s a general desire to give the appearance of distance between them and the lobbying elites.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) doesn’t even seem interested in keeping up appearances. Roll Call reports today that “lobbyists are not-so-quietly cozying up to the Ohio Republican,” with the expectation that he might be the next Speaker of the House.

A regular on the cocktail and fundraising circuit, Boehner has long been friendly with a number of corporate and contract lobbyists — a network that he is increasingly relying on now as he eyes the Speakership. Altria’s Gates, along with his wife, Joyce Gates, who once served as Boehner’s chief of staff, and Quinn Gillespie’s Lampkin are considered key members of Boehner’s inner circle, as are Gary Andres of Dutko Worldwide, Terry Holt, a former Boehner aide who is now with the Republican lobbying firm HDMK, and John Fish, an in-house lobbyist with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

Ohio native Steve Clark of Clark, Lytle & Geduldig, his partner Sam Geduldig, who was Boehner’s political director, and Glover Park Group’s Brian Gaston, another one-time Boehner staffer, are also tight with the top House Republican.

“I think that he has an excellent relationship with a lot of people on K Street,” Rep. John Kline (R-Minn.) said.

I don’t doubt that this is true. The oddity is the willingness to brag about it.

Indeed, this reinforces fears that Republicans’ electoral success in 2010 will create a Capitol very much like the one we saw the last time the GOP was in charge — with the corrupt scheme known as the “K Street Project,” which already seems to be making a comeback, and with corporate lobbyists writing legislation affecting their industries, just like old (pre-2007) times.

What’s more, Lee Fang reminds us that over the last year or so, Boehner has “consistently prioritized the interests of lobbyists over the public,” including brazenly huddling with 100 corporate lobbyists to kill Wall Street reform, and an incident last July in which Boehner “interrupted House proceedings so Republican lawmakers could attend his annual ‘Boehner Beach Party’ fundraiser with corporate lobbyists.”

Refresh my memory: isn’t this the sort of thing the Tea Party crowd is supposed to find offensive? Under the circumstances, it’s curious that the so-called “movement” is prepared to help make Boehner the Speaker of the House.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. 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.