06.17.09

Washington's Homeless Power Brokers

The wait to get a seat at an important congressional hearing can last days, but big-time lobbyists have found a loophole: They're paying to have the homeless hold their places.

It's a vocation that could only thrive on Capitol Hill: professional line-stander. The need the standers fill is an obvious one—key players want to be guaranteed a seat at even the most high-demand congressional hearings, but without having to wait the 20 or 30 hours that can require.

Enter companies like Best Messengers Inc. Lobbyists hire them to pay people to hold places in line.

But, as Jason Bellini says in his latest video column for The Daily Beast, among those people are D.C.’s homeless. It's not a bad job—Bellini shows the joy one homeless man finds in the work—but stacking the line with professional holders for big companies sometimes means activists and ordinary citizens are shut out.

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Jason Bellini is a freelance TV journalist who has worked for MTV, CBS, and CNN. In 2006, he received the Journalist of the Year award from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association.