K Street Project starts to look reconstituted

K STREET PROJECT STARTS TO LOOK RECONSTITUTED…. The notorious K Street Project became synonymous with Republican excesses of the Gingrich/DeLay/Bush era, and for good reason. As part of the effort, GOP leaders told business leaders that those who supported the Republican agenda across the board would be rewarded with access and influence; those whose loyalties were questioned would be punished.

It became a devastating scandal for the Republican Party, and Exhibit A in the culture of corruption that helped drive the GOP from power in 2006. Indeed, when John Boehner sought a leadership post in January 2006, he vowed that under his guidance, “[T]here will no longer be a K Street Project, or anything else like it.”

The elaborate scheme has not been fully resuscitated, at least not yet. But there are certainly hints in that direction. (thanks to E.H. for the tip)

GOP lawmakers and industry lobbyists are talking about legislation aimed at reining in power companies after some utilities were seen as being less than friendly to their efforts to block Obama administration climate change rules.

Several House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans and industry lobbyists are pushing for a “Ratepayer Protection Act,” a measure that would limit utilities’ ability to pass along costs to consumers, according to lobbyists close to the committee.

The discussions come after POLITICO last week reported that several top utility CEOs weren’t thrilled with a draft bill from Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) to preempt the EPA on climate change.

In this case, House Republicans have been pushing aggressively to gut the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions that have led to a climate crisis. The GOP expected energy companies to fall in line behind the party’s agenda, but CEOs from several companies — American Electric Power, NextEra Energy, Dominion Resources — balked.

And wouldn’t you know it, all of a sudden, Republicans decided it’s time to work with their lobbyist allies on K Street to advance a punitive measure they know those companies won’t like.

This seems to be part of a larger trend. A few months ago, GOP officials told specific business leaders that if they cooperated with the Obama administration in 2009 and 2010, Republicans would be inclined to punish them in 2011 and 2012.

What’s more, in May, GOP leaders announced they were “keeping score” when it came to corporate PACs’ campaign donations. If lobbyists intended to start writing legislation again, the way they did during the last Republican majority, the implication was that they’d have to start buying that influence once again.

All of this, of course, comes under the leadership of John Boehner, who makes no secret of his affinity for lobbyists, whom he turns to for practically everything.

And we’re only two months into the new GOP House majority. It’s only going to get worse.