“These are people who knows things. Many of them worked on the Hill. They’re experts. These are relationships that can be important to you.” So says Vic Fazio, former member of Congress and current big-shot lobbyist.
With the constant cutbacks on staff salaries, office allotments, and support agencies in Congress–including the recent 5 percent cut–congressmen may not have too many people to talk to who know the issues other than lobbyists. As my colleague Daniel Schuman noted recently, staff salaries have remained stagnant, staff members have fewer policy roles, and staff numbers have fallen. This has occurred at the same time as an explosion in the number of lobbyists occurred.
Maybe Fazio’s right. Since Congress insists on driving the icepick beyond their frontal lobe K Street may be the only place to find information. All the more reason for them to disclose their contacts with congressional and executive offices. If they’re going to act like an arm of the government than the public should be privy to their actions.