No Access Like Inside Access

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Inside access is the name of the game in Washington lobbying, and an item in the “Heard on the Hill” column in today’s Roll Call (subscription required) shows the lengths some lobbyists are willing to go to to get it. Specifically, Rebecca Cox, a lobbyist for Continental Airlines and the wife of former Congressman (and now SEC Chairman) Christopher Cox (R-Calif.).

Like all congressional spouses, Rebecca Cox was issued a special pin that gives her access to parts of the Capitol complex normally closed off to the public. She’s still entitled to wear that pin, since her husband resigned his seat during the current session of Congress.

Late last week, while she was monitoring the pension bill for Continental, Cox took advantage of that congressional perk. As Mary Ann Akers picks up the story in Roll Call:

Aides saw Cox at 1:15 a.m. [Friday] standing outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), where conferees were scheduled to be meeting (though, in reality, they had moved down the hall to another Senator’s hideaway). Cox, they said, was wearing her spouse pin conspicuously on a necklace.

“She had it prominently displayed on her necklace,” a senior Republican aide to one of the Senate conferees told HOH. “No other lobbyist could have gotten into that area.

Even in an age when lobbying is becoming an ever more tempting occupation for congressional wives – see Bill Allison’s latest report – Cox’s chutzpah was unusual enough to cause a stir on the Hill. But for that, this middle-of-the-night inside job would have worked to perfection.