The Sunlight Foundation’s lobbying scoreboard released today makes official something we all intuitively knew to be true.
The Obama Administration has triggered a gold rush for lobbyists in the nation’s capital. The non-profit group reports there are 1,700 new lobbying registration forms filed with the Senate Office of Public Records during the first-quarter of 2009. A mere 184 clients terminated a relationship.
The picture is bound to get much brighter as lobbyists have another another 45 days to file paperwork for clients picked up as of yesterday. That means records will be swamping the Senate until May 15.
Sunlight says the Troubled Asset Relief Program is a financial bonanza for lobbyists working the bailout beat. Citicorp, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase and Fifth Third Bank expanded their lobbying rosters during the quarter.
Even beat-up companies provided lobbying punch. The break-up of PMA Group, which was headed by Paul Magliocchetti, the former right-hand man of powerful Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha, has spawned new business for a pair of start-ups created from its carcass. Flagship Government Relations is the new home of eight former PMA clients, while Capitol Consulting Group picked up a foursome.
The ever-colorful Magliocchetti is known for strolling into the kitchen of the Alpine Restaurant ordering staffers to “Get me some oysters! Get me some steamed crabs! Get me a rack of lamb!” That was fare slated for the bellies of Congressmen and their staffers.
Mags may have been a little over the top, but as my dear friend Ron Levy says, the Constitution grants the right of lobbyists/clients to “petition the government.” It's silly to think that a Congressman could be swayed by a choice cut of meat or glass of fine wine. If he is, get rid of the bum.
Levy, research director at NAPS, wants to know why it’s okay for a PR person to take an editor to lunch without being charged with hanky-panky or the suspicion of trying to buy a puff piece.
Lobbyists play a vital role in keeping the wheel of government turning. Let the fun continue on Capitol Hill. The more lobbyists in D.C., the better.