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.
The Washington Post
Robert G. Kaiser - Reporter, Writer
Jeffrey Leen - Editor
Alice Crites - Research Editor
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
An overview of Gerald Cassidy's life and career.
A "cast of characters" in the life and career of Gerald Cassidy.
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