The 2008 presidential campaign featured blistering attacks, particularly from the eventual victor Sen. Barack Obama, on Washington’s chief money-making industry. Lobbyists are now trying to assess where they stand in Washington with a reformer in the White House and an economic downturn that is now actually stretching onto K Street.
Most of the change that will occur on K Street relates to the partisan makeup of firms. With Republicans falling further into the minority, lobby firms will need fewer GOP lobbyists and more Democratic ones. Some changes are already underway with Comcast replacing a Republican as chief lobbyist with a former staffer of prominent Obama supporter Tom Daschle.
Despite the Politico’s suggestion that, “The repositioning highlights how little Washington is likely to change, despite all the anti-lobbyist rhetoric tossed around in the campaign,” lobby firms certainly fear what kind of access and what new reforms they could face under President Obama’s administration. If we had the sense of smell of a lion, we could smell the fear emanating from the monitor when reading this Congressional Quarterly article from today. This article is ridden with quotes from lobbyists not only attempting to sell themselves and their business to a new administration, but also trying to prebut the coming reforms and changes.
I sincerely hope that the promises of reform do not end at the ballot box as so many on K Street seem to be projecting. Further transparency requirements are needed to reel in the influence industry. A good place to start would be to enact the reforms contained in the Transparency in Government Act, available at PublicMarkup.org.