National Journal: The State of Lobbying:
“Lobbying is now a $2 billion-plus annual business in Washington — and that’s just the amount that can be tracked through official lobbying filings. Billions more are spent on public-relations, grassroots, and other advocacy efforts that don’t have to be disclosed but are increasingly a key part of the influence industry,” according to a National Journal report on lobbying. The article provides a detailed look at attempts to reign in lobbying over the past century and a half. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 comes in for particular criticism by some lobbyists, “The LDA is a joke in some ways, because no one looks at those filings and there has been no enforcement.” In the past ten years the Justice Department has investigated only 13 violations and reached three civil settlements. Lobbyists also claim that the system in Washington is broken, due in part to the revolving door between Capitol Hill and K Street, “They cite short-term Hill staffers whose knowledge base is shallow, forcing them to rely on lobbyists for information. … Lobbyist Pete Rose … talks about a ‘broken’ system on the Hill. ‘I mourn the loss of institutional knowledge, and as a result of high staff turnover and lack of knowledge on issues there is often a lack of responsiveness.’” Stories abound of “arrogant” and “rude” congressional staffers strong-arming lobbyists into buying them meals, paying for their drinks at a bar, or demanding a party to be paid for by the lobbyist’s firm. The Journal story also provides a list of the top 25 lobbying firms and the top clients of the top 15 firms.