Overheard Only In Washington

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So there I was in a very public setting today and the woman next to me was talking with a Senate staffer very loudly on her cell phone. After dropping names of the ex-Senator’s top aide she said: "Tell that to the person who has 21." Then she sternly said into her earpiece, "I have one, repeat one, earmark that I need.  I know that the Senator is under a lot of pressure about earmarks and lobbyists but this is just one request." Without taking a breath she then said, "Yes, $500 would be perfect. That’s a very generous personal contribution."

The next series of calls had to do with various meetings she was attending and arranging for doctors, pharmaceutical companies and Big Pharma itself. She mentioned her name in one of the conversations and when I returned to the office I looked her up. A big time lobbyist, former congressional staffer, who’s working for a former lawmaker’s lobbying firm on behalf of pharmaceutical firms, cigarette makers, brokerage firms, and even at one time, Enron.

There it was, in a microcosm, just how it works. Pressure for earmarks. Raise money for a campaign. Revolving door. Business as usual.

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