Hightower Report: Eau de Lobby

D.C.'s K-Street cleanup smells fishy

Even a hog must sometimes gag at the stench of its own sty. Maybe that's why some corporate lobbyists have launched a campaign to spiff up K-Street, Washington's corridor of shameless high-dollar influence peddlers.

The pay-to-play profession is so soiled and stinky that even the odious Newt Gingrich couldn't stand it, claiming in his hapless presidential run this year that he's a corporate "consultant" – not a lobbyist. Adding to the industry's reputation for ick is the sight of Jack Abramoff, the convicted sleazeball lobbying hustler who's now on a "Remorse Tour," charging groups across the country $10,000 a pop to hear him talk about – get this – ethics reform!

Sad to say, but lobbying is a huge, and hugely profitable industry. There are 535 members of Congress, one president, and 23 cabinet officers in charge of our national government, but they are constantly swarmed by 12,000 registered Washington lobbyists! These hired guns hauled in $3.3 billion last year for helping Big Oil, Big Banks, and other biggies gouge us.

Unsurprisingly, the American people are disgusted by them. So, the head of the American League of Lobbyists (yes, lobbyists have their own lobbying group) now says that a spritz of magnolia-scented Glade or maybe one of those pine-tree-shaped air fresheners is needed to improve K-Street's smell. Would he include actually staunching the stench by banning lobbyists from doling out campaign cash to lawmakers they're hustling? Oh, gosh no – that might actually work! Instead, the lobbyists' lobbyist is proposing less pungent reforms like giving "ethics training" to those in the trade. Wow – imagine how that would've changed Jack Abramoff!

To make real change in this corrupt system, check with the people's watchdog group, Public Citizen. Go to www.citizen.org.

For more information on Jim Hightower's work – and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown – visit www.jimhightower.com. You can hear his radio commentaries on KOOP Radio, 91.7FM, weekdays at 10:58am and 12:58pm.

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lobbyist, lobbyists, Washington, D.C., K-Street, Newt Gingrich, Jack Abramoff

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