In Broad Daylight: Crunch Time for K Street


Lobbyists strike at Congress while the legislation is hot; the housing industry is pumping money into congressional coffers; Don Young has his Wolf Pack and former Rep. Curt Weldon has Iraq and Libya; and a Kansas congressman sends campaign e-mails from the wrong computers. Campaign contributions and lobbying are as American as apple pie, this is your post-July 4th news:

Tis the season to be lobbying. Roll Call reports that lobbyists are decending on Congress in a pre-summer breakfeeding frenzy. Tobacco lobbyists, cancer lobbyists, and lobbyists from every side of the oil price issue are primed for serious legislation that will be brought to the floor in the next three weeks. Jade West of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors makes the best case for action on gas prices, “do something, damn it. Just do something.” Now that’s lobbying.

Another way to make a difference is to let important congressmen know you care by sending them campaign contributions. That’s exactly what the housing industry is doing as it has become a lightening rod for the struggling economy. The industry contributed more than $95 million to the campaigns of congressmen and senators with a special focus on congressmen with particular influence over any legislative fix that may emerge.

It’s not just industry and consumers that rely on lobbyists to help them out, congressmen need them too. Rep. Don Young of Alaska, under investigation for everything from earmarks to Abramoff, put a call out to his “Wolf Pack” of lobbyist buddies earlier this year as he faces real challenges in both the primary and general for the first time in decades. Young’s chief of staff Mike Anderson sent out a letter to this coterie of former staffers and congressmen turned lobbyists exhorting them to help Young win and defeat the FBI investigations, if not, “you and your clients will be impacted.” Stay classy.

Wired continues to reveal more and more information on the shady, and often bizarre dealings, of former Rep. Curt Weldon, who remains under investigation by the FBI. This episode takes us to the Ukraine, Libya, and Iraq via the often unseemly world of arms dealers.

Staffers in Rep. Dennis Moore’s office used computers in his congressional office to send out campaign e-mails for Senate candidate Jim Slattery in violation of House rules and, possibly, federal law. Not only is this a stupid mistake to be making, but it reveals that these staffers (apparently like myself) are geezers for still using e-mail.