You’d think there would be laws against senators signing on to wield their considerable insider influence for special interest groups as soon as they retire. Oh wait, there are. For example, federal law prevents most officials from joining the influence peddling game for one to two years. It’s just that these laws are as full of loopholes as a plate of spaghetti, such as the designation that in order to be a “lobbyist,” they must spend 20% of their time lobbying for a client. Any less, and they’re just, um, well-compensated friends? Something like that.
Other times, they’re just not reporting their contracts, like this $5 million doozy. It’s part of a trend of non-disclosure that experts say is responsible for the appearance of lobbyist spending’s apparent slight decline in certain segments. So how lucrative is the “strategic advice” market? About $3.2 billion a year, with annual salaries often exceeding a million dollars. Quite an upgrade from the $174,000 a member of Congress makes. And again, those are “official” numbers. There’s probably twice as much lobbying actually happening in Washington than what is on the level, according to Tim LaPira, Assistant Professor of Political Science at James Madison University.
“The problem is that just about everybody in the influence world knows that these numbers fall way short of reality,” he wrote in a report for the Center for Responsive Politics. “You might even say ‘under-the-radar,’ ‘stealth, or shadow lobbying is a bit of an open secret in Washington. What we don’t know is just how many shadow lobbyists there are.”
Wait, you mean corporations and politicians are being shady, especially when it comes to their own self-interests? Shocking, right? Watch the video above for more on this story.