Back to Business – GOP Leaders Wooing Lobbyists


Well, you can’t accuse them of lacking chutzpah. In the waning days of the 109th Congress – a Congress marked by a notable lack of accomplishment – the GOP leadership has set aside time this coming Thursday not to pass the long-stalled lobbying reform bill, but rather to meet with friendly lobbyists and warn them that giving to Democrats is bad business.

A story in today’s Roll Call –  GOP Brass to Meet Lobbyists – has all the details:

“This is a straight-out appeal to [lobbyists] to contribute to Republicans — to remind them what Republicans do not only for their specific industries but for the whole business community,” said a GOP leadership aide. The aide added that the leaders would emphasize that “reports of the Republican majority’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, and we’re coming back.”

Several GOP sources said the leadership also would reiterate a warning against giving to Democrats that was conveyed by National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds (N.Y.) earlier this month to a smaller group of lobbyists and political action committee directors.

As one aide put it, part of Thursday’s message will be, “if you’re hedging your bets you’re making the wrong decision.”

Roll Call reports that between 150-200 lobbyists and representatives of interest groups and think tanks are expected to attend. They’re scheduled to get briefings – and a pep talk – from GOP leaders including House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Majority Leader Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo). Topping off the event will be none other than the president’s own chief strategist Karl Rove.

If a high-profile powwow with lobbyists in the final days of a session rocked by lobbying scandals strikes you as odd, you’re forgiven. It’s as if none of that ever happened. And indeed, looking at the docket for the remaining days of the 109th Congress, it seems that while there’s plenty of time for glad-handing the lobbyists and cultivating their money, any chance of passing a lobbying reform bill this year appears to be dead and buried.

No doubt the applause at the Capitol Hill Club on Thursday afternoon will be long, hearty and rich.