Gang of Eight enlists K Street


The bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Eight is planning a sequel to their Senate approach to immigration reform. There, they met in secret to carefully craft a comprehensive immigration reform bill, then allowed it to be gutted and replaced by a comprehensive immigration reform amendment crafted by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and John Hoeven, R-N.D.

Call it the gangster approach to governing.

Now National Journal reports that the Gang of Eight, minus charter member Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has enlisted 50 business and trade association lobbyists to push House Republicans to pass the bill. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz. and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., are leading the charge.

“This is a political campaign,” McCain said. “We’ve gotta have communications. We gotta have coordination. We gotta have advertising.” As tourists visiting the nation’s capital are delighted to find each summer, lobbyists are only too happy to provide communications, coordination and advertising free of charge and with no strings attached.

McCain is better known for blasting the iron triangle of “special interests, lobbyists and campaign finance.” As chair of the Indian Affairs Committee, he helped unravel the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal. Now, he’s openly employing the techniques of former Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, who as House Majority Leader “stood for a blurring of the line between lawmakers and lobbyists so that lobbyists are now considered partners of politicians and not merely pleaders,” as the Washington Post put it. To help pass a bill he favors, the maverick turns, like a Washington wheeler dealer, to the lobbyists he thinks can get it done. Which says as much about how Washington works as it does about McCain.