About This Series | Chapters:

Chapter 1

A childhood to remember -- and to forget.

By Robert G. Kaiser

Christmas night 1961: Gerald S. J. Cassidy, still two decades away from wealth and influence as a Washington lobbyist, was home from Villanova University. It was his junior year. Home was Fresh Meadows, Queens, a neighborhood of row houses and apartments in New York City.

Throughout his childhood "home" had been an uncertain concept for Cassidy. His parents' relationship was rocky, money a constant issue. Gerry was moved around the family "from house to house," he said in an interview, "living with who could afford me.... I remember evictions... repossessions, things you never forget." He had three much older sisters, the youngest a dozen years older than he.

Before he was 10 he had twice been sent to live with his beloved oldest sister, Delores, in Dallas, each time for stretches of two years. He started school there in a Catholic elementary school. He came back to New York the second time with a touch of a Texas accent.

[Photo]
Gerald Cassidy (second row, plaid shirt) poses for a photo with his second grade class in Dallas, Tex. (Family Photo)

"The kids made fun of me.... Some of the older kids were picking on me one day and started to punch me around, so I ran for our apartment. It was after school so [my father] was home by then and was looking out the window, watching me run. I ran up to the second floor and the door's open, so I think I'm going to run in and be saved. He closed the door and locked it. And I got beat up outside the door. Eventually he opened the door, the kids ran away, he pulled me inside and he told me, 'I don't want to ever, ever see you run away from anybody.'."

On that Christmas night in 1961 Cassidy's sister Joan and her two kids appeared unexpectedly at their mother's apartment. Joan's husband had gotten drunk at his family's Christmas celebration and had beaten his wife and both children when they got home -- far from the first time this had happened. "They were just in bad shape and hysterical," Cassidy said.

The devoted kid brother set off angrily for his brother-in-law's second-floor apartment. "I had it out with him. I wanted him to leave the apartment so I threw him out and actually threw him down the stairs. Neighbors called the police." The police were about to arrest Cassidy for felonious assault when a priest named John Coffey, a distant cousin, appeared on the scene.

The priest tried to explain the situation to the police: The man who had been thrown down the stairs was a drunk who beat his wife and kids; this young man was the wife's devoted kid brother; if you arrest him he'll lose his scholarship to Villanova, his life will be ruined. The cops yielded; Cassidy escaped arrest.

Cassidy persuaded his sister to file charges. He found her a lawyer in the neighborhood. The lawyer got a restraining order against the husband, then got her a divorce.

***************

Jack Cassidy, the man Gerry Cassidy thought was his father, had been a boxer and a chief petty officer in the Navy. After the Navy he worked as a stevedore until he could no longer do the heavy lifting and became a messenger. He was a pugnacious, gloomy Irishman and "a very traditional Catholic [who] believed that life was a vale of tears that you went through to your reward in the next life," as Gerry Cassidy described him. Jack told his son college would be a waste of time -- he knew people who could help Gerry get a good union job as a boilermaker or an operator of heavy equipment.

[Photo]
Gerald Cassidy's mother, holding his cousin Carol. (Family Photo)

But Cassidy was determined to prevail over his difficult childhood and Jack Cassidy's low expectations. His mother encouraged him. "My mother always said I was going to college, period." He was admitted to Villanova in Philadelphia, hoping he would have a football scholarship. That didn't happen, but the Augustinian friars at Villanova helped out with an academic scholarship; a heavy schedule of outside work, mostly physical labor, paid for the rest. Cassidy was actually able to send some money home to his mother while paying his way through college.

Before college, Cassidy had been shaped by an unusual high school experience, recalled Philip Costanzo, one of his closest pals. They attended Holy Cross, an all-boys academy that Costanzo and Cassidy both entered in the first year of its existence, 1955. For the next four years, they remained the oldest kids in the school as it grew by one grade each year. "We were masters of the manor for four years," said Costanzo, a professor of psychology at Duke University for the last 30 years. Their class produced college presidents, police chiefs, business executives, leaders of many kinds -- not a coincidence in Costanzo's view.

[Photo]
Gerald Cassidy's 1959 high school yearbook photo. (Family Photo)

Costanzo described the prevailing ethos at Holy Cross, taught by the fathers on the faculty: "You can be self-seeking as long as you take care of others." Even in school he knew his friend Gerry wanted to be rich, but he also expected him to look after family, friends and less fortunate people. "And that's what he did."

The teenage Cassidy was a wise guy, an adventurer and a risk-taker. He drove a car before his classmates. His Uncle Jack, his mother's brother, let him use his red and white Oldsmobile 88. He drove a little crazily, Costanzo remembered, but if you complained he'd open the door and threaten to jump out of the car -- while it was moving. Once the guys in their gang got angry at the McConnell sisters, twins who had snubbed one of them. "We drove up to Connecticut and stole signs from the Merritt Parkway to put on the McConnells' front lawn," Costanzo said.

Cassidy was a football player, a linebacker on defense and fullback on offense. He had talent. Holy Cross had a good team, but Cassidy was disqualified in his senior year; at nearly 19, he was too old for high school football. His years of being shuffled around from relative to relative and school to school had slowed his academic progress. So in his last year he played semi-pro sandlot football with older guys. "I still did pretty well," he remembered. The Villanova coach recruited him, but Cassidy misunderstood the offer. He went to Villanova thinking he had a football scholarship; in fact he had to make the team first, and there were too many good players that year.

"It was the thing I most wanted to do. If you could take everything else I've done in my life and roll it up into a ball, the thing I would have liked to have done was that."

Costanzo was also a football player who didn't make the team. The two of them were roommates and helped get each other through school. It was a lark, as Costanzo remembers it. They worked hard at outside jobs, mowing lawns and pruning trees, or loading trucks. And they played hard, too.

[Photo]
Gerald Cassidy's 1963 Villanova University yearbook photo. (Family Photo)

"Gerry and I used to get dressed to the teeth. We got imitation nice suits. Gerry always liked to dress well. We'd go out to the best restaurants in Philadelphia with an umbrella on our arms. We'd eat an elegant dinner at Bookbinder's, leave a nice tip and beat the check. We did that all over Philadelphia."

In his sophomore year Cassidy met a pretty girl who was trying to find a conference that was being held on the Villanova campus. "It was October 1, 1960," Cassidy remembered. "She was beautiful." Loretta Palladino had graduated from high school the year before and was working full time as a secretary. Cassidy fell for her hard.

Pursuing her was a challenge. Loretta's Italian-American family was suspicious of the Irishman from New York. "Dating her you had to have her home at ten," Cassidy remembered. "Her mother would sit at the front door, waiting for you to come in." Her family provided stark contrast to his own: loving, stable, sober. "Both her parents were one of 12. Both families lived in the same neighborhood. You could walk to everybody's house from where they lived in South Philly. They were just tight as they could be." Cassidy had vague dreams about his future. He and Costanzo talked about becoming professors, though neither really understood what that would entail. And Cassidy had long toyed with the thought of becoming a lawyer, although he had never known one and "had no particular interest in it." Lawyer sounded good, however. Lawyers were important people.

He took the law boards and the graduate record exam. Cornell Law School admitted him with a scholarship, which sounded impressive. He and Loretta moved to Ithaca, N.Y., and began planning to get married. And then a kind of lightning bolt struck.

To get a marriage license, Cassidy needed a birth certificate. He asked his mother for the document. Cassidy had no idea that this simple request would force his mother to finally let go of a dark family secret. As the birth certificate starkly recorded, Jack Cassidy was not his real father. That, it turned out, was someone named Gerald McIntyre.

For Cassidy this was a heavy blow, disorienting and disheartening, the more so because of his strained and violent relationship with Jack Cassidy. He dropped out of Cornell Law School and moved back to Queens. He and Loretta did get married, but for a time he felt stymied. He worked as an insurance adjuster for Liberty Mutual, a job he hated. "I decided in favor of every claimant that came along," he recalled.

Cassidy never met or even saw Gerald McIntyre, whose first name he has carried through life. He learned later that his real father had lived in Queens until he died in 1972, when Cassidy was 32 years old, but McIntyre never made any effort to meet his son and namesake. It wasn't easy for Cassidy to come to terms with his real father's indifference.

When Cassidy and Loretta got married in 1963, Costanzo was best man. "Loretta was an important ballast point for Gerry," Costanzo recalled. "He was less mercurial around Loretta than usual. She loved him; he really loved her." With her encouragement he tried Cornell again the next year, and stuck it out, unenthusiastically.

"I thought it was really boring," Cassidy said of law school. But it was his ticket to a larger world, and he wanted to make the trip. He and Loretta lived in graduate student housing; she worked as a secretary for three years. He worked, too, in the Cornell library and on beer trucks both summers.

The spirit of the '60s reached Cassidy at Cornell. Edward R. Murrow's famous documentary on hunger, "Harvest of Shame," had affected him. So did some of the fiery rhetoric he heard on campus. "There wasn't a lot to do there. We went to a lot of lectures." One visiting speaker who impressed him was Edgar Cahn, who with his wife, Jean, helped establish the legal services program under the Office of Economic Opportunity, the agency that waged Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty.

Cassidy always knew he wanted to make money. But his Catholic education and the speakers he heard at Cornell had put ideas in his head. He interviewed with a couple of big New York law firms, got no job offers and decided to accept a job in Florida with a new program called South Florida Migrant Legal Services, which would provide legal assistance to migrant workers, on the Edgar Cahn model. The salary was $125 a week.

He took the Florida bar exam right after graduating from Cornell, in the summer of 1967. "I expected it to be much harder than it was." He and Loretta rented a house on the river in Fort Myers and began a new chapter in their lives.

Washington Post research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.

Tomorrow: Cassidy's good works for migrant workers in Florida open the way to doing well in Washington.

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.

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Is being a lobbyist now considered a *calling*? Funny, I thought lobbyists were parasites. I always learn something reading WaPo.

Posted by: Scott in PacNW | March 5, 2007 01:04 AM

theres a lot to be said about lobbyists , but right now , I couldnt tell you what it is , everyone needs a job , but I see a lot of slanting taken as OKAY , and I am a little tired of it...


I worked in Washington DC , and I know that about 100 % of the Beltway Contracting companies employ people who are from the companies that they are selling products to... And that they expect to find jobs in those companies when they retire from the Government...


Most outside of DC would call that conflict of interests...


It is not purely that , but certainly OUTSIDE OF DC I see that the rest of the country is going to the dawgs...

and that doesnt seem responsible , because there is so much more to America than the Military Industrial Complex...


does not employ all of America...


The manufacturing base employed much more...


most factories in America are empty and many homes have been lost


and there are no happy endings waiting for most returning servicemen... that sucks.

Posted by: interesting | March 5, 2007 01:16 AM

This afternoon (2pm) the tagline for this story was extremely negative, something like, "Corporate lobbyists rise coincides with culture of corruption and money in DC." Now, he's Citizen K Street. My guess is that they got an angry call from the lobbyist firm and caved to the pressure.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 02:47 AM

Glen: One of your kids must be up for you to be up reading at 4:38am!

Posted by: Lane | March 5, 2007 05:58 AM

Reading the story of Mr. Cassidy or others like Bill Clinton who overcame difficult childhoods is inspirational. It helps one realize that sometimes nature trumps nurture.

Posted by: vickylytle@bellsouth.net | March 5, 2007 06:56 AM

Reading the story of Mr. Cassidy or others like Bill Clinton who overcame difficult childhoods is inspirational. It helps one realize that sometimes nature trumps nurture.

Posted by: vickylytle@bellsouth.net | March 5, 2007 07:26 AM

What WaPo? Saying this guy is evil and should die or go away for the good of humanity is forbidden? Nice editorial policy you have there sticking up for the Graft Machine. The mismanagement of the Federal government at every level is a SYMPTOM and this guy and people like are the CAUSE. I'll say it again and you can take it down again - THIS GUY NEEDS TO GO.

Posted by: Todd | March 5, 2007 07:54 AM

again, the "dysfunctional childhood" angle. really, trying to make this guy's life sound eventful and exciting -- and relevant -- must have been quite a chore. why was the article even written? and what is a "lobbyist", anyway? along with our congress, lobbying is a great new candidate for outsourcing.

Posted by: fedup | March 5, 2007 08:20 AM

This is bizarre. It should only be news when someone overcomes all odds and makes a difference in an honorable profession. This isn't the case here.

Posted by: Tim | March 5, 2007 08:26 AM

Reading the negative comments about Cassidy is both understood and troubling. Yes, there are many lobbyists in Washington that are currupt, but to say that "lobbyists are parasites" is ignorant and shows a lack of understanding of the profession. Those lobbyists that are cuppupt add to the long list of problems that make Washington what it is.. Those that do their jobs ethically and correctly help to make Washington run better. You have to remember, lobbying our government is a Constitutional right; when we put all of the nation's problems on one profession we are unable to fix the root of the problem... To say that Gerald Cassidy neeeds to die because he has too much influence over Congress is outrageous... Maybe you need to look at the Members of Congress that you send to Washington and allow themselves to be influenced, the problem of money in politics needs to be taken care of, but that means that our elected officials need to play along as well.

Posted by: Vincent | March 5, 2007 08:50 AM

In which chapter(s) will we read about the torrid affairs, corruption, and debauchery of Mr. Cassidy and associates? Please let me know, I'd like to skip over the other feel-good chapters and get to the good stuff.

Posted by: Bob Loblaw | March 5, 2007 09:06 AM

I cannot believe that the Washington Post would "glorify" a group of parasites that aids and abets the U.S. Congress in wasting billions of dollars of taxpayers money on frivilous "earmarks" when there are millions of people in the U.S. who go hungry on a daily basis and further need heating oil intervention from a third world country.
Shame on you Washington Post.

Posted by: Tom Quinton | March 5, 2007 09:14 AM

I can't believe I actually stumbled across this story when I almost never look at washingtonpost.com. Yes, I feel the story is a little overdramatic, even cheesy, but isn't that because of the writer?

For those of you who have negative comments to say, are you being fair when you don't know Gerry? I used to work for him, and he's helped out my family a bit too. Even with all that, I barely feel I know him.

Gerry has his flaws like any human, but overall, he's a good guy. Don't be so quick to judge when you don't know truly know the guy.

Posted by: J | March 5, 2007 09:19 AM

There is a fundamental lack of understanding of most readers about the work that Mr. Cassidy and Cassidy and Associates does. I only hope that people will read the whole story. The "earmarks" that Cassidy have secured for their clients have funded medical center projects that have saved thousands of lives; they have funded research centers at universities that have educated thousands of students in important areas. The very first Cassidy project at Tufts is indicative of much of the work that the firm has done. The firm has helped universities and medical centers to navigate Washington in order to receive funding for important projects. Most of their clients could not have received this funding without help. These are not frivolous and wasteful projects. Is all of the work that the firm has done as noble? No. They have done corporate lobbying as well. But such is the nature of the business. I hope that readers will read future articles to see that the work of lobbying can be socially beneficial. Someone you know may have been treated at a medical center that received government funding because of Cassidy. Or someone you know may have received a better education at a university because of such funding. Reserve judgment. Is the world of lobbying perfect? No. Can it provide good? Absolutely.

Posted by: BJS | March 5, 2007 09:50 AM

I get annoyed when the word lobbyist brings forth negative connotations. Anyone that does their jobs in an unethical manner should be pointed out, but not the entire profession. There are unethical teachers, policemen, lawyers, and accountants, and really any other profession you could list.. In full disclosure, I am technically a lobbyist, I lobby for the expansion of renewable energy and environmental protection. I am a registered lobbyist, yet I work for an important cause (in my mind), and I do my job ethically. Someone noted in an earlier post that lobbying can be helpful in the governmental process, I agree- to an extend. I work to educate elected officials on environmental and energy related topics, I build coalitions to help these issues get a stronger footing... Does this make me a "parasite"? I hope not, but as long as the lobbying profession is brought down by the Jack Abramoffs of the world, I guess I will have to deal with such remarks as an occupational hazard.

Posted by: J.T | March 5, 2007 09:58 AM

I concur with Vincent, BJS and a few others. These days it seems that when people hear "lobbyist" they think "Jack Abramoff." But it isn't fair to condemn all NFL players because Pacman Jones is a psychopath. What's more, so far as I have read Cassidy is one of the more conscientious -- he donates to good causes, he is calling for greater public disclosure than is already required, and the earmarks he pioneered provided important grants for university research.

He also happens to have a particularly inspiring life story, and my initial skepticism about this story is waning some. No doubt there will be rough patches of his life covered too, but who would want this kind of scrutiny on them? It's to Gerald Cassidy's credit that he cooperated, too. Thank you Mr. Kaiser and thank you Mr. Cassidy. I can't wait for tomorrow's installment.

Posted by: sportsfan | March 5, 2007 10:45 AM

This looks to be the start of a great series by the Post. If they could get on our side on immigration, they might even gain readers.

Posted by: Old Atlantic | March 5, 2007 10:49 AM

The message I get from this article is that the writer is basically saying that because this guy had a difficult childhood, he is somehow entitled to rip off the taxpayers and engage in the worst form of political prositution. This whole thing disgusts me.

And please spare me all the whining about how lobbyists are really great people and that they do works of charity and are almost like Mother Teresa. Give me a break. That's just pathetic.

Most lobbyists are greedy, filthy, superficial people who are nothing more than bottom-feeding influence peddlers with no core. They laugh all the way to the bank, essentially bribing elected officials while the taxpayers get soaked. They are basically paid to kiss up to people in power. As soon as an elected official loses an election, they lose their value to a lobbyist, who stops calling them, unless, of course the elected official goes through the revolving door to join the ranks of the lobbyists.

The whole lobbyist profession is shameful, disgusting, and sickening. To all the lobbyists who have whined on this post - get a real job - something with at least minimal honesty and principle, please. And quit your whining.

Posted by: Dominic | March 5, 2007 11:05 AM

Yes, hospitals are good, I guess. But corruption isn't, even if it is associated with the building of a hospital. If the contractor took kickbacks in building the hospital, the judge won't be impressed that the project was a hospital rather than, say, a prison or sewage treatment plant. The contractor still serves time.

These lobbyists trade influence in (navigate) Washington in return for money. The funding of a hospital should stand on its own merits, not on whether you paid enough cash to the ex-chief of staff of the relevant committee chair.

I can't believe anybody would even defend such a preposterous notion.

Posted by: Craig | March 5, 2007 11:26 AM

Vincent. Lobbyist are filthy influence peddling money spreading vermin and the root of too many systemic ills to enumerate. The needs and wants of the people can be made known to Congress without any money EVER changing hands so take your defense of lobbying, add a couple of tablespoons of tea and some hot water and you will have a cup of tea. It will taste horrible and likely be toxic because you put lobbyists in it but it will be tea. So you don*t like to feel like a bad guy? You should not have chosen to be a lobbyist. You entire profession is based on the wrongly decided SCOTUS LIE that money is equivalent to free speech. Your profession in inherently anti-democratic and fascist. Just save your breath on nonsense about how *we* just do not understand lobbying, apologist. You convince no one but yourself.

Posted by: Todd | March 5, 2007 12:12 PM

I work for Cassidy & Associates, and its strange to see all of these people rip apart the company. I wonder how many of these people actually know anything about the lobbying business? Or, for that matter, anything about Cassidy & Associates? Yes unethical lobbyists do exist, but my guess is that most people have benefitted from the work of a lobbyist. Lobbying in its pure form does include influence, but NOT necessarily money. I have been a lobbyist for a few different groups, both private and non-profit, and have never given money personally, through a PAC or otherwise to an eleced official that I have worked with. You only hear about the unethical ones: the Jack Abramoff's.. These cases are, as hard as it is to believe, rare.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 12:18 PM

We must stop all forms of lobbying.
We must have public financing of elections
ONLY!
The problem is that is has gotten to where our politicians will not make a decision without the big money influence behind it.

Posted by: swtexas | March 5, 2007 12:49 PM

Most telling remark so far: "I wonder how many of these people actually know anything about the lobbying business?"

What does "know anything about" mean, please? From the context, I think this usage translates to "have experience with," or more accurately "are steeped in the flawed paradigms of."

It is my opinion that lobbying--corporate lobbying in particular--is the root of the problem of a detached and isolated Legislature. Someone else mentioned the "SCOTUS Lie," which I presume refers to the ruling that corporations enjoy the same right to petition Congressional representatives as citizens do.

Members of Congress frequently complain that they do not have the time to do their jobs, e.g., to research important measures upon which they are expected to vote, or at least to hold an opinion.

Hogwash. They do not *take* the time, and they have learned to spend their time elsewhere. We find ourselves represented by selfish people who would rather be told what to do than to lead. Where is the "public service" in this? I do not see it.

Politics, in its most essential form, is the ability of Party A to influence the behavior of Party B, where Party defines an individual, a group, a community, a nation, even a world. Lobbying--or petitioning a member of the Congress--is simply an avenue for influence.

The exercise of comparing corporate-funded, professional lobbying to citizens seeking to have their interests represented by their elected officials is left as an exercise to the reader.

Corporations were originally defined as persons in order to allow them to be sued. That is, early corporations claimed immunity from suits for breach of contract based on the fact that they were not persons. Think about it as you walk into the building which belongs to the corporation with which you are presently engaged.

Posted by: Brad Eleven | March 5, 2007 12:52 PM

If you want to do a "feel good" piece about lobbying, then write something about all the small lobby groups out here hustling to make it. They're the ones who still have integrity and substance.

This article is just a way for the Cassidy & Associates PR machine to drum up much-needed business given the fact that there is more competition for fewer, smaller earmarks.

Posted by: anon | March 5, 2007 01:06 PM

C'mon, anonymous, during the 2nd Bush's 2nd term, lobbyists in DC have racked up $5,780,000,000.00 worth of influence peddled. That's more than some states' annual operating budgets. That's nine million dollars for every member of Congress with enough left over to hand every senator $18 million, and you're going to appeal in defense of your "profession" to the example of that army of pro bono lobbyists we always hear about who selflessly donate their connections and influence to the fight to house orphans and save endangered species?

The whole mess is nothing but naked greed, and everybody in the country except the employees at Cassidy seems to know it. I wish John Wayne would ride into town and give the entire pack of them 24 hours to get out of town, after which the marshalls begin rounding them up for prosecution.

Lobbyists are a blight on the country, THE blight, and it's sickening how they sit around congratulating each other on their influence-peddling successes, imagining they are masters of the universe. They are nothing but lowly graspers, who will say anything for a dollar, every one of them, ruining the country in the service of which real men are dying in Iraq. If it ever comes out that profit-thirsty influence-peddlers played a role in sending those men to Iraq, God help you all.

Posted by: Craig | March 5, 2007 01:08 PM

You can attack what I say all you want. "filthy influence peddling money spreading vermin and the root of too many systemic ills to enumerate" Thats pretty harsh.. What I am talking about is the fact that the word, or profession "lobbyist" should not be attacked because some people act improperly. Lobbyists do not work only for corporations, there are issue lobbyists, lobbyists for state/local governments, there are lobbyists for NGO's and non profits.
I do not feel like a bad guy, I feel bad for ignorant people that like to lump all members of a profession together. Fascist? Really? Where did you get the idea that I am a lobbyist? Because I don't fall in line with the issue of the week which happens to be blaming all of our problems on lobbyists? I work in government relations for an international human rights foundation.. Yeah, its pretty evil work. I meet with Hill staffers to update them on international laws and crises around the world. How is a process like this undemocratic? Before you go off on me, stop being ignorant, know what you are talking about, and take an anger management class.

Posted by: Vincent | March 5, 2007 01:10 PM

Wow, there is a lot of anger in here. To those in support of lobbying, get off your high horse- you do infringe upon direct democracy. To all those crying that lobbyists are the root of all evil, also, get off your high horse- they do in many cases help the legislative process. I am a former Hill staffer, worked on the Senate side for 12 years; I am a life long Democrat and hope there will be restrictions on lobbying, but I also know that good lobbyists can be very helpful. They are not all "influence peddlers", some just educate us on their position and go back to their office.

Posted by: Jim McT | March 5, 2007 01:21 PM

Just as Cassidy set the business model for appropriations lobbying in Washington, D.C., there have been other firms that have perverted that model and created a bad name for lobbyists. What most people don't realize is that "earmarked" funding is very often where truly model demonstration projects originate. I have heard before that back in the 80's, when providing funding for AIDS was not only unpopular but downright unthinkable, a Member of Congress earmarked the funding to go around the President Reagan's budget. Likewise, the Susan Komen Race for the Cure was initiated with an earmark, I believe. Yes, there are "bridges to nowhere" and other unworthy projects; yes, the system has been abused by those who do not seriously consider whether a project is fundamentally useful. But by and large, appropriated projects amount to an extremely small amount of spending but can have a very positive, enormous outcome. And let's all not forget that the right to lobby is afforded to us as the Right to Petition the Government....

Posted by: LAL | March 5, 2007 01:32 PM

So which of these top lobbying groups represent "We the people"?

http://www.opensecrets.org/lobbyists/

Maybe -- maybe -- the AARP, though even they are an insurace company.

Otherwise, they're all corporate special interests looking for a handout. Period.

Posted by: Scott in PacNW | March 5, 2007 01:33 PM

Jim McT -- this country has never had "direct democracy" so it's just not there to be "infringed" upon. This is a representative democracy, and citizens may petition their government. They do so through lobby groups, and pretty much everyone is represented by one lobby another, sometimes multiple lobbies. I'm sure even Scott in PacNW has someone representing him in Washington.

And in reply to swtexas, I could be wrong but if I recall from the Hill article about Cassidy last month, I believe he also supports public financing of elections.

Posted by: sportsfan | March 5, 2007 02:09 PM

I find this story very interesting and informative. We need to keep an open mind. A little information can give us a new understanding about a mysterious profession. I'm intrigued by how his background seems to have given him so much drive to succeed.

Posted by: EMS | March 5, 2007 02:27 PM

Republican Congress = K Street evil.

Dem Congress = K Street good.

It's all about spin, baby.

Posted by: Spin Cycle | March 5, 2007 02:32 PM

Eh? The Republican majority started the K Street Project. To a large degree, the appropriations side of the lobbying industry is politically neutral.

Posted by: Sveiks | March 5, 2007 02:38 PM

Plenty of lobbying is dirty. So is plenty of being a salesman. Plenty of managing a manufacturing company. Government reflects the citizenry surprisingly well, and people do business for similar reasons -- whether in private, public, or non-profit work.

I worked for a non-appropriator in the Senate, and Mayors, advocates of homeless folks, colleges, hospitals etc. used to come up to tell me why they needed FEDERAL funding. Two thoughts often occurred to me often:

1. the "rich" get richer. bigger counties/cities, or local efforts were more capable of competing for federal funding (filling out the forms, or even being AWARE that there was federal funding).

2. i remember when locals used to raise funding for fire trucks, police tools, and other investments that made them safer - either with local taxes, or a type of "bake sale," etc. September 11th made every volunteer fire dept or sherriff believe that IF he/she couldn't talk local citizens into paying more for their own safety, he could get new gear from the feds.

At the end of the day, lobbyists often were an invaluable resource to smaller communities in finding grants - both competitive and earmarked. Sure, some were sleazy, but most weren't, and there was virtually never mention of fund raising for one's boss...but plenty about why East Oakville needed new radios in the Sherriff's cars.

If anyone wants to shout about federal funding, fix mandatory spending. That's what's bankrupting the country, not the flat discretionary pots that have a tiny fraction (of $800 billion, so a seemingly large #) of federal spending.

Posted by: BillyBob | March 5, 2007 02:48 PM

I don't care WHO he is or WHAR he did.. what matters is that NOW HE IS A PAID MERCENARY WHO WILL REPRESENT THE HIGHEST BIDDER, AND THEN WORK FOR THAT BIDDERS NARROW PERSONAL INTEREST AGAINST THE NEEDS OF THE GREATER CITIZENRY.

JESUS CHRIST WOULD BE A SINNER IF HE WERE A LOBBIEST.

OUTLAW THRID PARTY MERCENARY LOBBYING!

Posted by: Long Beach, CA | March 5, 2007 02:58 PM

To the earlier post who mentioned lobbyists like Cassidy & Associates do good work, such as securing funding for hospitals, etc., that help people -- funny, but in many hospitals and other similar buildings, there is a big "donors wall" listing major funders. Occasionally you'll see at the top of the list the state, county, or city, but I have never seen among the names of individuals, foundations, and businesses "The Federal Government, Thanks to a Big Earmark." Please correct me if I am wrong.

Posted by: Non-lobbyist | March 5, 2007 02:59 PM

In response to Non-Lobbyist, the same organizations that do not include federal earmarked spending on their "wall of donors" also do not, for the same reason, include competitive grants received from NIH, for example, or money from the National Cancer Institute - it is federal funding, not PRIVATE donations.

Posted by: LAL | March 5, 2007 03:11 PM

To people like dominic and teh champeeon spller in Long Beach, I have to ask if any of you "lobbyists are parasites" folks have ever actually met a lobbyist.

Have you ever talked to someone in the industry about what they do on a daily basis? Ever talk to them about who they represent and what issues they advocate on the Hill?

I know, I know...you guys are angry bitter dudes, the "system" is too powerful, everyone in DC has been currupted and has lost touch with the concept of looking out for their constituents, etc. Nobody is going to ever convince you otherwise because you know you're right. Mission Accomplished.

But you can look to almost every Hospital or University and see that funds are very tight. St. Whatever Hospital doesn't have enough room or technology to give patients the healthcare they deserve, and the University of Whatever really wants to expand their library or create a Center to study domestic violence or something like that.

So the Hospital folks use some of their $ to hire these guys in suits in Washington to help them expand that emergency room or buy that big piece of medical machinery. And the University guys hire some more suits to provide tech upgrades to the library and start a Center that will research and prevent some of our society's problems.

Those situations are real examples of the good that can come from earmarks. It's not Abramoff, Nick Naylor, or Gerry Cassidy's suits that cost more than most of us make in a month -- it's the real world aspect of appropriations lobbying.

Please, take 10 minutes and look at the websites of any DC lobbying firms...look at their accomplishments and see all the good that has been done.

Members of Congress support earmarked projects because almost every single time they are programs the Member can come home and brag about when they are on the campaign trail. They wouldn't be bragging...they wouldn't be putting out press releases if they didn't see the positive results those projects at St. Whatever and University of Whatever and recognize their importance.

Posted by: Sveiks | March 5, 2007 03:20 PM

Vincent how are you gonna tell the good from the bad- the media is not going to tell us- Wall street is not going to tell us- are you gonna tell us?? Since we are soooo stupid.

Posted by: swtexas | March 5, 2007 03:22 PM

jim mct you must be a very wealthy man to not understand why people are angry that billionaires get their legislation and the regular middle-class are too busy working their butts off to babysit these immorals!

Posted by: swtexas | March 5, 2007 03:28 PM

It should be remembered that many of our nation's greatest leaders were involved in lobbying for causes and for profit. The profession is first recorded in history in the Roman Empire. However, the first known lobbyist in the new world was Benjamin Franklin. He was employed by the colonies of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts to lobby the crown for pro business interest in the colonies. Much like today he was paid a good salary for his work. One of his many accomplishments as a lobbyist was getting the crown to repeal the stamp tax on the colonies. Many historians believe that the repeal of this excise tax stabilize the early economies of the colonies. Later on his lobbying connections in Europe were used in France as he personally spent 2 years lobbying the French monarchy to commit the French navy to the assist revolutionary forces.

Posted by: UMass | March 5, 2007 04:42 PM

Umass respectfully, that is interesting and good to know but are you trying to say that you believe that what is going on today is remotely the same thing. If so, you are delusional and noone is impressed with 18TH century facts.

Posted by: swtexas | March 5, 2007 04:47 PM

Earmarks and lobbyists are just like the old saying regarding members of Congress "I hate all of them except my own." Next time you complain about lobbyists and earmarks, try to find a way to work in which you don't use a transportation method paid for in part by an earmark. Or go to your fire station and tell them you don't approve of them employing a lobbyist to to fight for more funds for equipment, training, etc.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 04:58 PM

I wish the Post would do more stories like this. This is why I like buying it. More profiling peices that give me some insight, please!

Posted by: Bryan | March 5, 2007 05:41 PM

To Anonymous that works for Cassidy & Associates, either Gerry is paying you a lot of money or you are a complete idiot.

Gerry is a greedy "little man" who only gives to charity and does anything good out of guilt and he has plenty of guilt! He was very willing to talk about how badly other men treated him. Will he talk about his many indiscretions and how badly he has treated employees, family and friends in future chapters?

If his childhood was so painful and he hated brutish men, then why did he become one? His temper, viciousness and spitefulness were legendary around the office and the city.

Like so many other power and money hungry egomaniacs he has lost his way and his soul and going to mass everyday can't fix him!

Posted by: Anonymous | March 5, 2007 06:35 PM

^^^Thanks, Vince!

Posted by: lol | March 5, 2007 06:44 PM

Another word for Franklin's position is "ambassador." In other words, he lobbied on behalf of the country, and was paid a salary to do it. Contrast that to, say, the $140,000 the Confederation of Garment Exporters of the Philippines paid to Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg last year to represent their interests before the U.S. Government.

Pop Quiz:

When an unemployed textile worker from North Carolina learns that the Confederation of Garments Exporters of the Phillipines paid the Washington firm of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A. $140,000 last year to influence public policy in its favor, he can be confident that:

(a) the CGEP is ashamed of the history of sweatshop abuses in the Asian garment industry and is asking Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg to help find retired federal workers who might be able to help the CGEP draft a code of workers' rights for the Philippino garment industry.

(b) Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg quickly returned the money with a note, "the U.S. government exists for the benefit of U.S. citizens, and it is to that end U.S. policy is directed. Therefore, we can not in good conscience accept money from persons or entities whose goals are incongruent with the goals of the democratically formed government of the people of the United States."

(c)Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg used the money to try to make it easier for corporations in the Philippines to undercut American workers.

Posted by: Craig | March 5, 2007 07:26 PM

To Anonymous who wrote that Gerry is a greedy little man. Why don't you provide more details? I don't believe you can be identified through the Post website and I am sure that the readers of the series would love to know the real truth. This isn't fun and games and the people should know the real truth about the price paid by others in pain and suffering to make Gerry the 100 million dollar man.

Posted by: Diogenes | March 5, 2007 08:18 PM

LAL, and everyone else who likes to complain about the lobbying profeesion that really has no clue what lobbyists do, I read an article about the work of lobbyists:
In fact, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from making laws that limit the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Citizens use lobbyists to petition U.S. government. You might say, "Well, no lobbyist represents me." My response:


Are you a senior citizen, or a farmer, a union worker, or a small businessman?
Are you a woman, a child, a minority?
Do you work in the health field?
Are you for or against gun control?
For or against higher taxes?
For or against privatizing Social Security?
Then you have a lobbyist fighting for you in Washington.

Posted by: | March 5, 2007 08:36 PM

What's most mystifying is, what is the Post's point here? Twenty-five installments? On a lobbyist, albeit a highly successful one? Whose stock in trade is earmarks?

That Cassidy gave extensive interviews to the Post and allowed staff to do likewise indicates that the upshot of this mammoth undertaking will be something along the lines of "lobbying, often bad, but Cassidy, (Democrat), pretty good."

The Post should be ashamed, but, well, that's just not going to happen.

Posted by: Ten Sixteen | March 5, 2007 09:12 PM

hey swtexas i keep seeing you show up here and say one thing or another and it's all negative but there's never any substance. what's your real beef? put up or shut up! i'm not as smart as some of the others in this thread (look, i can't even capitalize letters!) and i'm learning a lot. i'm sure you could too

Posted by: anti-swtexas | March 5, 2007 09:17 PM

I really wish this was about Grover. I wonder if he would share the details of his life. For Gerry: good for you for overcoming a difficult beginning in life. Now, spend the rest of your life giving. You will be happiest doing so. To the writer: a little tedious for a reader looking for insight into K Street instead of a social work case study. Thanks, anyway, for your hard work. I will keep reading.

Posted by: Sonja Poet | March 5, 2007 10:45 PM

This whole thing remains sickening.

Yes, I have met dozens of lobbyists before.

99% of them pretended to be upstanding citizens (goes along with the fake "hi, how are you, are you important? routine that so many of them engage in), and 99% are disgusting, filthy, evil people. That's why they ship their kids off to boarding school in a pathetic attempt to justify their careers, even though everyone knows it's prostitution.

The only honest lobbyists are the ones who are lobbying for a church or a charity and aren't making a mint off of peddling access to the government and shutting out average citizens.

Lobbyists are among the lowest forms of life on Earth - 100 times worse than used car salesmen, prostitutes, and drug dealers.

Posted by: Dominic | March 5, 2007 11:48 PM

"disgusting, filthy, evil... prostitutes, drug dealers..."

And I so so SO thought you were about to invoke the Nazis, set off the Godwin alarm and finally put this thread to rest.

Posted by: JFKFC | March 6, 2007 09:42 AM

I was a nonprofit lobbyist when Cassidy first started out. He changed the rules of the game. First of all, he hired staff from the congressional appropriation committees. And he paid them big salaries. They in turn lobbied their former colleagues and said they too could work for Cassidy, if they played ball. This "inside game" worked well for Cassidy and scarce funds and limited earmarks seemed to always go to Cassidy clients. Another thing happened. Those of us who lobbied for education had to resort to playing second fiddle. Within the universities, Cassidy convinced the university administrators that they should allow him to concentrate on getting earmarks for their medical schools. This all but prevented the rest of us from obtainting set asides or even increased funding for other academic programs at the same universities. Cassidy had a winning formula for success. He owned the appropriators and by promising to funnel federal funds to finance costly medical schools, he dictated the lobbying priorities of the leading universities in the country. The only one who called him on this was Senator Byrd. But as the Washington Post article pointed out, even the senior senator from West Virginia needs a friend on K Street every six years.

Posted by: slimjim | March 6, 2007 01:04 PM

Yeah.... whatever..... PUBLIC Universities are one of the primary employers of these guys. Every one of us up here on the Hill gets hit repeatedly by lobbyists for PUBLIC universities each year. I am so freaking tired of people always claiming that it's just private interests that employ these guys.

Posted by: LegClerk | March 7, 2007 02:04 PM

This is an excellent series, describing an important trend at the highest level of American political life (this is still a representative democracy, isn't it?) by following one person who's been involved in that change.

The comments, however, are a little disturbing in that they reflect ignorance and antipathy on the part of the very citizens who are supposed to be choosing our government.

I cannot go to Washington every time I want to make sure my views are understood and my interests expressed. Few citizens, despite their right to be heard, can. So there are organizations in Washington which I support because they can express, however adequately, my intentions and desires where I cannot. They are lobbyists.

There are companies and institutions whose interests may be inadvertantly damaged by government or Congressional action or inaction. They need to be able to get that message to the right ears in Washington, and they frequently hire firms to do this for them.

There is nothing fundamentally wrong with lobbying -- it is the excercise of American rights by proxy.

The problem lies less in corrupt lobbyists than in corruptible Congresspersons. The Congressional response to the GOP-K Street scandals of the past two years is instructive: Representatives wrung their and pounded their fists about the venal lobbyists, when it was actually the venality of their Congressional colleagues that was the problem. Tighter controls were placed over lobbyists, but not over the corrupted Senators and Representatives who personify the rot at the core of our system of government.

Study Cassidy and his methods. He is not a nice man, perhaps, but it is the weakness, fear and greed of our elected representatives that has made him successful. If no one had been willing to grab for the dollars he held out toward Capitol Hill, he would have been like a tree falling in an unpopulated forest.

We will not excise this cancer of power-hunger and corruption in Washington by focusing on Cassidy. Look, instead, to Delay and Co.

Posted by: Robert Ashton, San Jose, CA | March 9, 2007 01:27 PM

What's with the Catholics and their loss of morality. Between Cassidy and Cheney they'll soon start investigating Wall St.
Removing the Catholics and replacing them with a more honest upright ethic group.
But were will we find such people in 21st century. Not on this planet!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: fastfred | March 15, 2007 10:48 PM

When I had occasion to eat breakfast at La Coline's for week which is the closest restaurant to Capitol Hill, I asked the maitre d' what the roadmap of tables was for by his podium? "that's so the lobbyists can find the congressman or senator they are looking for."

Lobbyists arrange favors whether monetary or other to legislators for laws and earmarks. This is BRIBERY! by any name you want to call it. Corporations own Congress thru lobbyists.

It stinks!

Posted by: baldski | March 17, 2007 12:51 PM

Fastfred, you are a very ignorant and rude person. How dare you insult Catholics like that? What gives you the right to post such atrocious crap? That is very low of you to aim at Catholics like that. As a Catholic myself, I feel very much offended by your comments. That just goes to show that you don't appreciate diversity, and give a cheap blow to a particular group of people.

So, who's a more honest ethic group than Catholics? The Jews? No. The Protestants? No. Any other religious group? No. None are perfect, and not one is better, more honest and ethical than the other. One's religion should have nothing to do with a serious problems like corrupt lobbyists and others are causing. Shame on you for aiming that low.

Posted by: gottiprincess12 | April 2, 2007 02:28 PM

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