About This Series | Chapters:

About the Citizen K Street Project

Thirty-eight years ago, a young lawyer named Gerald S. J. Cassidy left his job in Florida on a legal aid project for migrant workers to come to Washington. He went to work on the staff of the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, chaired by Sen. George McGovern (D.-S.D.). Cassidy worked for McGovern on food stamps, school lunch programs and the like for six years, then left with a colleague to establish a consulting business. They thought they could use their knowledge of Congress and the federal bureaucracy to help businesses and institutions navigate the nation's capital. Instead, they ended up helping to change Washington itself.

They developed one big idea for a business that proved amazingly successful: the earmarked appropriation for individual institutions. Tufts University was their first client to win an earmark, $27 million to build a human nutrition research center. This success was the first recorded example of lobbyists making money by persuading Congress to send money to a private institution that had asked for the money without any government agency proposing the project. Within a few years this upstart lobbying firm had dozens of clients and was making millions of dollars.

The original partnership broke up after ten years, but the business boomed. Cassidy & Associates became the biggest lobbying firm in town. Its success contributed to an explosion of lobbying as imitators tried to copy the Cassidy method. Lobbyists became important sources of cash for the politicians they lobbied, and as campaigns became ever more expensive, lobbyists' contributions became ever more important. Over time, the rise of lobbying helped create a new culture of wealth in the nation's capital. And Gerald Cassidy himself amassed a fortune of more than $100 million.

In the coming weeks, Robert G. Kaiser, associate editor of The Washington Post, will tell the story of Gerry Cassidy's career and the evolution of his firm in a unique fashion, combining the resources of both The Post and washingtonpost.com.

The story will begin in the newspaper and on the Web on March 4, with an overview of Cassidy's career. Then, beginning March 5 and running Monday through Friday for five weeks exclusively at washingtonpost.com/citizenkstreet, Kaiser will tell the story in a serial narrative that will chart Cassidy's path and the transformation of the lobbying industry in Washington. While the serial continues, The Post will publish daily reminders to readers and synopses of each installment. The series will conclude in the newspaper and on the web on April 8.

PROJECT CREDITS

The Washington Post

Robert G. Kaiser - Reporter, Writer
Jeffrey Leen - Editor
Alice Crites - Research Editor

washingtonpost.com

Jason Manning - Web Editor
Alyson Hurt - Designer
John Poole - Video Producer and Editor
Ben de la Cruz - Videographer
Francine Uenuma - Archival Video Editor
Dee Swann - Photo Editor
Ilene Rosenblum - Producer
Caitlin Thompson - Producer


About This Series | Chapters:

Photo Gallery

An overview of Gerald Cassidy's life and career.

Key Players

A "cast of characters" in the life and career of Gerald Cassidy.

Feedback

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Comments

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Excellent reporting. Keep it up & hopefully something will come of it.

Posted by: Dwight Doolan | March 4, 2007 10:47 AM

From a marketing and a content perspective this is absolutely brilliant - the newspaper version of the serialized drama. I'm also intrigued by the multimedia components: it's part documentary. Is Frontline in trouble?

Posted by: Lionel Foster | March 6, 2007 05:08 PM

I commend and salute the Post for this thought-provoking expose' of the federal government - our federal government. I have oftened suspected that the bills proposed by our legislators are authored by these same lobbyists, with total disregard for the public good and protected payouts to the selfish few. To me, it is evidence that the government has too much of our money. I can't wait to throw the bums out; each and every election. Forget seniority; legislator turnover is the key.

Posted by: lew nuz | March 6, 2007 10:35 PM

I commend and salute the Post for this thought-provoking expose' of the federal government - our federal government. I have often suspected that the bills proposed by our legislators are authored by these same lobbyists, with total disregard for the public good and protected payouts to the selfish few. To me, it is evidence that the government has too much of our money. I can't wait to throw the bums out; each and every election. Forget seniority; legislator turnover is the key.

Posted by: lew nuz | March 6, 2007 10:39 PM

Bill Moyers' Capitol Crimes is a must-see on PBS, covering much more recent material on the abuses taking place via lobbyists. I watched it twice. I was not angered by the disclosures regarding the Abramoff/DeLay/Nye/Evangelical/Indian Casino linkages. I was just plain disgusted...especially in light of the great sacrifices our fathers and grandfathers endured to build this great Nation. Shame on all of those who disgrace the U.S. with their greed for money and power.

Posted by: rayinca | March 7, 2007 05:09 PM

Political greed and corruption is not new to the U.s. (or any other government). The only thing new is the blatant way it is done every day in full scrutiny of the media(our public watchdog- ha ha ha) and with no regard for any consequences. There is an old axiom that fits: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely"

Posted by: Larry Landherr | March 8, 2007 05:32 PM

This series is brilliantly presented. This is the future of newspapers, but we'll one day miss leaning back in a comfortable chair and snapping the paper into position.

Posted by: Dane | March 10, 2007 10:52 AM

HAS ANYBODY ADDED UP THE FIGURES FOR,SAY, THE LAST TEN YEARS FOR TOTAL EARMARKS,TOTAL FEES TO LOBBYISTS,TOTAL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS TO CANDIDATES AND THEIR PACS ?

Posted by: spencer | March 11, 2007 02:55 AM

Frankly, I'm rather tired of seeing this series. How long will it run? It's overkill. Kudos to Cassidy (I guess) for his success over the years, but this series has taken on the appearance of the WP pandering to the K Street crowd, lionizing all that is wrong with our Congress. Enough!

Posted by: cookbk4 | March 27, 2007 06:23 PM

Spencer -- To answer part of your question, Chapter 22 of this series features a database of Cassidy & Associates political contributions since 1979.

Posted by: alykat | April 4, 2007 11:24 PM

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