About This Series | Chapters:

Chapter 4

Gerald S. J. Cassidy has left his job on Sen. George McGovern's nutrition committee and joined a colleague, Kenneth Schlossberg, in a Washington consulting business. After a difficult beginning, he and Schlossberg begin to find paying clients.

By Robert G. Kaiser

In the summer of 1976, a famous nutritionist named Jean Mayer responded to the mass mailing that Kenneth Schlossberg and Gerald Cassidy had sent to nearly everyone they knew, offering the services of their new Washington consulting firm. Mayer's reply changed the course of history.

An exaggeration? Consider the situation: On July 1, 1976, the French-born Mayer had become the president of Tufts University. He had wanted to be president of Harvard, where he had become famous as a professor in the School of Public Health. But Harvard chose someone else. Tufts, a more modest university located a few miles from Harvard in Medford, Mass., picked Mayer. He was determined to make a mark there.

Nutrition researcher and Tufts University President Jean Mayer (TWP)

He hoped to find money from the federal government to help him achieve his first two objectives: establishing a center on human nutrition and aging, and creating New England's first school of veterinary medicine. He wondered if the new firm of Schlossberg-Cassidy could help.

When Mayer put this question, to Schlossberg, he recalled, the newly-minted young consultant replied: "I don't know what I could do, but for $10,000 I'll take a hard look."

He and Cassidy set to work. Within two years Congress appropriated $27 million for the nutrition center, which stands today in Boston's Chinatown neighborhood -- the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. And soon afterward, Congress appropriated $10 million more for the veterinary school. In effect, Mayer, Schlossberg and Cassidy had hit upon a new technique for extracting federal dollars for a "special interest." Within a generation their discovery would transform the way the federal government spends money.

Those appropriations for Tufts' human nutrition research center constituted a new kind of modern "earmark." Members of Congress had always voted for projects that "brought home the bacon" -- "pork barrel" spending meant to help their home states or districts, and by extension to help members politically. Bridges, highways, post offices, water projects -- these were traditional pork, often included in "earmarked," or specifically designed, appropriations items. Presidents supported such spending as well, sometimes for crass political reasons, sometimes to promote economic development or to satisfy the needs of executive agencies.

The line items for Tufts were new and different. They were appropriations directed by Congress to Tufts because Tufts wanted the money, not because any element of the federal government or, initially, any member of Congress had proposed them. The recipient sought the money through friendly members of the House and Senate.

And -- another first, apparently -- Tufts paid outside consultants, lobbyists, to help secure these spending provisions. Because Schlossberg-Cassidy charged a monthly retainer, and the objective required two years to achieve, all the parties profited handsomely from this enterprise. In the subsequent 30 years, earmarks grew like topsy, from scores a year to thousands. The government would dispense billions of dollars on these line items for non-governmental institutions, and lobbying for such appropriations would become an enormous business.

The combination of Schlossberg-Cassidy and Mayer did not have the power to extract millions from the federal government by themselves. They needed collaborators on Capitol Hill, members of Congress who could actually pass legislation to provide the money. Mayer had an idea for how to find such allies. The district of Rep. Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill, then the majority leader of the House, included Tufts. O'Neill attended a celebration of Mayer's inauguration and told the new president that he had a soft spot for Tufts because he and his brother had sneaked onto its athletic fields as boys to play ball. O'Neill told Mayer he'd like to help him -- let me know what I can do for you, he said. Mayer recounted this to Schlossberg, and asked if he and Cassidy could figure out what O'Neill could do.

The consultants met with O'Neill, who assigned a member of his staff to work with them. Cassidy found a law that had been passed some years earlier that could be read as authorizing the creation of federal centers for nutrition research under the Department of Agriculture, a good beginning. (Ordinarily, Congress must authorize a project, then separately fund it in an appropriations bill).

Cassidy and Schlossberg met with the department's agricultural research service, run by a Democrat they both knew who once worked with them on Capitol Hill. The USDA was "receptive to the idea," Schlossberg remembered. They met with other members, particularly Rep. Silvio Conte, a Massachusetts Republican, a friend of O'Neill, and the ranking Republican member of the House Appropriations Committee. They took the proposal to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), who offered support as well.

The nutrition research center was funded in three line items in agricultural appropriations bills. The first, for $2 million, provided a planning grant to design a new center to be owned by the USDA but run by Tufts. (view the bill [pdf]) A team from Washington visited Tufts' medical campus in downtown Boston to study the feasibility of the idea and made a positive recommendation. "Then we went back [to Congress] and got funding to build" the center, Cassidy remembered. Ultimately their Massachusetts allies won approval in both House and Senate for two additional line items that provided $20 million to construct the new center and $7 million to fund its initial operations. These were included in the agriculture appropriation for fiscal 1978. (view the bill [pdf])

The experience was educational. "The biggest thing was O'Neill's relationship with Jamie Whitten," Schlossberg said. Whitten, a conservative Mississippi Democrat, was chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. Members of the post-Watergate "Class of 1974" and other liberal Democrats questioned whether he deserved such an important chairmanship, but O'Neill promised to stand by Whitten and, Schlossberg remembered, took the opportunity to put in a word for the Tufts nutrition research center.

President Gerald Ford, left, Rep. Silvio Conte (R-Mass.), center, and House Speaker Tip O'Neill share a laugh before a black tie dinner in 1987. O'Neill and Conte became allies of Schlossberg and Cassidy. (Rich Lipski,TWP )

Next up was the school of veterinary medicine. Such a school would be the only one in New England. Schlossberg discovered that a consortium of states in the Northwest was also hoping to create a new school of veterinary medicine at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash. Washington was represented by Sen. Warren G. Magnuson, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

This happy coincidence led to a simple proposal: Why not two new schools of veterinary medicine, one at Tufts and another at Washington State? Magnuson embraced the plan. Then an unexpected critic materialized: the University of Pennsylvania, which perceived a new school at Tufts as unwelcome competition to its own well-established school of veterinary medicine. Magnuson's staff came up with a solution: a $10 million appropriation for Penn. Congress approved a supplemental appropriations bill in 1977 that included $25 million to be divided among the three schools.

The next opportunity for Tufts came unexpectedly in 1977. Peter Krogh, the dean of Georgetown University's school of foreign service, was desperate for new quarters for his school, which had a distinguished reputation but miserable facilities in Georgetown's old Nevils Building, once home of the university hospital. Krogh recalled in an interview that he had the idea of bringing together his foreign service school and the school of languages and linguistics to create a new kind of "intercultural center" to train students to work overseas for the government and business. It would reside in a handsome new building on Georgetown's main campus.

Thanks to shrewd lobbying by two Georgetown priests, The Revs. William George and Byron Collins, the House had approved a federal grant for such a building in 1976. But the grant had been blocked in the Senate. In 1977, Krogh recounted, he had the idea of looking for a partner -- another school that might want to build a comparable building and could become an effective ally in Georgetown's lobbying effort.

In a tribute to Sen. Magnuson's importance, an approach was made to the University of Washington, but it wasn't interested. Krogh then called his friend Edmund Gullion, a retired U.S. ambassador who was dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts. Would he like to join the effort by requesting money for new facilities at Fletcher? Gullion was enthusiastic. They agreed on a package that would give Georgetown $19 million in federal funds for its new building, and Tufts $7 million.

Schlossberg-Cassidy was on a regular retainer from Tufts, and the firm was called in to help. The House again approved the earmark. Schlossberg then tried to cajole the bureaucrats at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare into supporting the idea, but Joseph Califano, the Secretary of HEW, came out strongly against it. He wrote to the Senate appropriations committee that supporting construction projects for universities was a low priority for him. "I feel even more strongly that if the Congress wishes to appropriate funds for construction, the grants should be subject to competition on the basis of national needs and objective criteria," Califano wrote. "The earmarking of these funds for specially selected schools is entirely inappropriate."

A hearing held on the request was chaired, in Magnuson's absence, by Sen. Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, home of Tufts of course. But Brooke was skeptical about an earmark, and asked repeatedly why there shouldn't be a national competition for the money.

The Senate committee did not approve the proposal. The Washington Post published a stern editorial echoing Califano, denouncing House approval of the earmark as "one of those weak moments that bring out the worst in Congress." The lobbyists and Georgetown fought back. They persuaded The Boston Globe to editorialize in favor of the appropriation. They persuaded Henry Kissinger, then the recently-retired Secretary of State, to write a letter to members on the importance of the two schools to the training of American diplomats.

But the key to success, Schlossberg says, was somewhat cruder. The House Appropriations Committee had put the earmark for Georgetown and Tufts into a "supplemental" appropriations bill, one of those legislative monsters that covers many different government functions. When the Senate's version of the bill was available Schlossberg studied it with care. He found $500 million in projects for Washington state, Sen. Magnuson's bailiwick. He conveyed this information to Massachusetts members of the House-Senate conference committee that would meet on the bill.

In the end, Schlossberg said, the Massachusetts members cut a deal with Magnuson: His projects would go through, and so would the money for Georgetown and Tufts.

Soon afterward Tufts would get still more federal money, for a medical library. Then other schools caught on to the new game being played in Washington. Boston College became a Schlossberg-Cassidy client; then Boston University; then Columbia. All won earmarks of their own. The "good government" opposition to such "pork barrel" spending articulated by Secretary Califano and The Washington Post editorial page was blown away by politicians in Congress who loved the idea of bringing home the bacon.

And Schlossberg-Cassidy, which had struggled for the first year of its existence, was suddenly hot.

Washington Post research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.

Tomorrow: Riding a wave of earmarks, Schlossberg-Cassidy becomes a $2 million-a-year business.

Key Related Materials

Documents / Newspaper Stories

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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Please email us to report offensive comments.

really an excellent piece of journalism here. scary to think that people like cassidy number in the hundreds in washington today, bringin home useless slabs of bacon for special interests and leaving real interests behind. its a shame.

Posted by: nick | March 8, 2007 01:03 AM

What a come down. From working on poverty issues to fighting over money that isn't his in the first place. And the country is the worse for it.

Posted by: Craig | March 8, 2007 05:29 AM

Nick, since when are university research centers "useless" pork? Craig, again, the country is worse off for investing in education?? We don't need better diplomats these days?

Not every earmark is a bridge to nowhere. The vast majority create jobs and provide important services -- especially the schools. Think of them like air travel. The vast majority are fine, even good, but it's only the disasters the media pays attention to.

Posted by: Martin | March 8, 2007 07:37 AM

Nick and Craig...I just wonder what kind of contributions you have made lately..or ever.. for the public good, or to fight poverty, or to create centers of education or health care delivery, or create jobs or to ensure that policy makers have all the facts on which to create solid public law..or to ensure that public policy is the result of dialogue and debate. Government affairs professionals fill an important role in governmental advocacy not unlike attorneys in the courtroom. Gerry Cassidy has done all of these things. My guess is you contribute very little. Accomplish very little and think very little. Are very little. You just like to belittle.

Posted by: Lane | March 8, 2007 07:45 AM

Whoaaaa! Did the Post call money for education "bringing home the bacon"? Spending on schools is bacon?

Posted by: Mike | March 8, 2007 08:35 AM

I know someone who went to Tufts. That's a great school. No Harvard, but definitely up there. I didn't know this history. Glad to see Cassidy had a role in helping the school. Definitely worth the money. Hardly pork or bacon. A rare good investment for the feds.

Posted by: Ken L. | March 8, 2007 08:38 AM

I agree. This series on Cassidy has been interesting so far. Seems, tho, with this installment, the Post has veered a bit with editorializing that investing in education, because a lobbyist helped out, is tainted as "pork." If this is how modern earmarks began, good. Education spending is something we should be proud of, not ashamed.

Posted by: John | March 8, 2007 08:43 AM

Did you all see that? The story says that in 1977 the Post editorial campaigned against the education spending. Now, today it calls it bacon. 30 years, and nothing's changed.

Posted by: Jay Hilmer | March 8, 2007 08:49 AM

Lane and Martin: I think you are missing the point. No one is suggesting that federal funds shouldn't be available for worthy projects. It's the way those funds are awarded that is the story here. Perhaps it would have made sense to build a nutritional institute in the nation's breadbasket instead of a city on the east coast? But despite protests, there was no competition for those funds, simply the lucky coincidence that the key appropriators had ties to the institutions. And while I would agree that lobbyists can serve an important role in advocating and educating legislators, in lobbying shops like Cassidy's, universities pay huge monthly retainer fees---$30-40K is my understanding. That's some pretty pricey educatin'. And then the lobbyists fill their pockets and dole out some of that money to the keep the legislators in power who will support their clients' projects. There's plenty of blame and shame to go around here---including voters who allow this system to thrive. Hopefully this series will anger enough of us that we will find a way to put an end to it.

Posted by: Mary | March 8, 2007 08:55 AM

Saw that Fletcher is mentioned in this story. Makes me happy. It's a great school. Alumni such as Bill Richardson, Thomas Pickering, Pat Moynihan, Phil Zelikow of the 9/11 Commission. Is this an OK place to thank Gerry Cassidy for his role in building the school? I don't know much about lobbying, I'm more of a quality education person. And I saw the other comments about the Post calling it bacon. Hardly bacon. I'd say our country needs more talent these days like those that Fletcher produces. Surely the Post wants better diplomats, too?

Posted by: Fletcher Fan | March 8, 2007 08:57 AM

Mary -- I respect the conclusion of your argument, that we need to reform Washington. I just can't agree with your premise that education spending advocacy should breed "blame and shame." We meend quality education if our kids our going to compete in the global market with Asian and European college grads. This money is a drop in the bucket for what our country needs to invest in th future. And it all started with a modest investment from people like Gerry Cassidy? Good. Heck, keep it up!

Posted by: Albert | March 8, 2007 09:02 AM

Schools are good, what does it take to get your interest in a subject today !

Posted by: Nicklan | March 8, 2007 09:18 AM

Albert: Please read my post again. I'm not opposed to money for education, I'm opposed to the way it is decided who gets that money which in my mind should be based on merit and not who has the most powerful congressman or lobbyist.

Posted by: Mary | March 8, 2007 09:18 AM

OK Mary, I reread your post. fair enough. Merit-based spending probably a good goal. And it keeps politics out. I respect what you're saying. Just that for me, if this is how the system is played, I'm glad that money goes for education, not just bridges to nowhere. I didn't realize that there's money in the system -- yes, broken as it is -- that actually helps for good causes, like teaching our next generation. Seems like a good investment to me, better than so much else.

Posted by: Albert | March 8, 2007 09:22 AM

Unfortunately Mary, you don't provide an example of how the nutrition center in the midwest would have got there. (And surely the food would keep en route to the northeast?)

Disclosing lobbying arrangements are important, and as far as I understand Gerry Cassidy himself agrees.

Posted by: Martin | March 8, 2007 09:28 AM

Good point Martin. Also everyone, check out that video posted above. Interesting point Gerry Cassidy makes, about federal spending on higher learning. Sounds like back then someone needed to jump in. Glad he did.

Posted by: Albert | March 8, 2007 09:32 AM

So.. when the Post wants to beat up Republicans they talk about "gutting education." When Democrats raise spending they call it "investing." But when a lobbyist gets within sneezing distance of that, even if it is a good idea the Post dismisses it as "bringing home the bacon," anything they can do to sensationalize their BIG story here.

Posted by: burch | March 8, 2007 09:44 AM

The project awards ARE based on merit. A lot of time and resources go into developing proposals and submissions to sponsoring legislators to properly educate the staff and decision makers about the basis for the request and the socio-economic benefit to the community. Members carefully evaluate the impact on their constituents and a lot of times reject or opt not to support the project. No one wants to be associated with a loser project. I have yet to hear or read of a community rise up in the face of a worthy award and scream TAKE IT BACK!. It is ignorant to assume that projects are approved simply based on the amount of money a lobbyist may raise for a member of congress. Are there corrupt members of Congress that's for the justice system to determine. Are there mechanisms to provide for their removal if theie actions do not coincide with the will of their constituants? Yes, but few constituants do more than blather on in blogs. The reason some schools, Non-profits or communities get these awards and others don't is because the successful ones invest in developing a quality, legal petition of their representatives, the non-awardees just sit on the sidelines and scream FOUL. If you don't ask you don't get.

As for the "Pork" distinction, it has become a misused term for all appropriations good and bad because tabloids like the WPO only report the bad because the bad sells newspapers. The WPO should run a list of all appropriations projects with their beneficiaries (Hey, more transparency) and allow people to decide for themselves. The WPO should also disclose their spending on lobbyists and the projects they are after much in the same way stock hawkers on CNBC have to disclose their ownership of a stock before commenting.

Posted by: Gerrard | March 8, 2007 09:47 AM

I remember seieng recently that the Post pays a lot of lobbyists to do a lot of lobbying. Does anyone know more about it? I'd be curious what kind of "bacon" Post lobbyists bring home. Think it's for funding schools?

Posted by: Lou | March 8, 2007 09:55 AM

Yeah Burch! I wish the Post would just give us its definition of terms up front. Gutting, investing, bacon -- what do they call that, situational ethics? Sounds more like agenda ethics at work here.

Posted by: anonymous | March 8, 2007 09:59 AM

Hey Mary -- do you have evidence that the money for learning isn't merit-based? Can you put some facts on the table in addition to making broad statements? The people in need might not agree with sweeping elite assertions.

Posted by: Tolchy S. | March 8, 2007 10:20 AM

Where's Todd?

Posted by: Bruce | March 8, 2007 10:37 AM

Not sure I completely follow Burch's argument but I agree in part: the Washington Post like most DC media outlets praises itself for questioning power above all else (not partisan left or right, just anti-power). The problem with this is how reductive it is. Is the person in power, the elected official, the university president, the top lawyer or lobbyist ALWAYS in the wrong? It seems to be a tenet of American journalism that the answer is always yes. This is a function of Watergate. Every journalism major wants to be Woodward & Bernstein (more Woodward than Bernstein). I know Robert Kaiser is older than that, but his assistants and co-editors are not, and everyone's infected by the Gotcha virus.

Posted by: Martin | March 8, 2007 10:40 AM

Alot of these comments are muddling the issue. Seems reasonable enough: money given to schools based on merit. Those schools are top-notch, Ivy level -- can't get more meritorious than that. And they've produced scores of outstanding grads. I've got no problem with what government did, and the lobbyist's role in it.

Posted by: Hicky W. | March 8, 2007 11:32 AM

I don't see how money for education is considered pork. When I think of pork, I think of million dollar visitor centers or bridges to nowhere.

Posted by: Buck | March 8, 2007 11:40 AM

Tufts is a great school. I didn't know Gerry Cassidy had a role in making it that way. I don't know if he's reading these comments -- in case -- thank you Mr. Cassidy.

Posted by: Tufts 98 | March 8, 2007 12:11 PM

Let us not forget this is only the beginning of the story. Anyone who does not see how most lobbying, a deadly invasive cancer upon our Democracy, has transformed the way in which our world works, must not be living on this planet. We cannot forget Abramoff, a one time employee of Cassidy, and the clear cut bribing of elected officials Abramoff orchestrated. It may be that not all lobbyist are bad, clearly nothing is absolute, but to believe that ordinary citizens are on the same playing field as big money corporations,with their untold number of lobbyists, is naive at best.

Posted by: | March 8, 2007 01:05 PM

I liked learning that at least one lobbyist -- Cassidy -- has done some good with his power. I didn't go to Tufts, or any of the other schools in the story -- state school for me :) -- but I don't begrudge them for one second for getting dollars to help their education.

Posted by: Mr. Gomer | March 8, 2007 01:30 PM

Yeah, public school for me, too. I can't believe the Post thinks funding schools is "bacon." Would they say that about health or nutrition funding?

Posted by: Len | March 8, 2007 01:44 PM

Hey anonymous, I hope you're right about Abramoff and the "deadly invasive cancer" to come, because today's chapter was a snoozer. There's a reason congressmen hire staff to deal with the legislative wheeling and dealing for them...

Posted by: Anon2 | March 8, 2007 01:56 PM

Teddy Kennedy had a role in the first earmark? I am shocked, shocked. Can we please get some new people in Congress?

Posted by: DC Dave | March 8, 2007 01:59 PM

Here is the big problem many people in the General Public (also known as anyone who is not a lobbyist or Hill staffer) has with lobbyists and earmarks: these members of Congress should run the government as a business. Their way of thinking should be "well, if we gave $27M to a university with no strings attached, we would have to either raise prices (i.e. taxes) on just about everything to absorb the cost increase, or we would have to lay off people to save $ to pay for this project, or we would have to find other ways to either raise revenue (again, taxes) or to cut costs. However, members of Congress do not think rationally when it comes to spending Our Money.

Posted by: Phil | March 8, 2007 02:04 PM

Bruce. Right here reading reasonable adults play instead of that ridiculous display of insults from the K Street schilldren yesterday. Lobbyists and lobbying as currently formulated are still an anathema to democracy, breaking out Federal government more each day and bringing you American fascism at breakneck speed - everyone involved needs to go, top to bottom. Why the concern, Bruce? Do you feel the need to be insulting to defend your vested interest in the status quo K-Street graft machine? Or do you have a reasonable statement about reform? I mean REFORM, not shuffling the same weasels in the system now.

Posted by: Todd | March 8, 2007 02:21 PM

Todd, so glad to have you back!

"American fascism"

And yet you decry "ridiculous display of insults"?

So what would you do? Still waiting...

Posted by: Staples | March 8, 2007 02:32 PM

Also, WaPo is still trying to turn a K-Street graft encrusted sow's ear into a silk purse with this incredible spin job. Seriously, if Bush had spin this good he would have 90% approval rating. The man peddles influence, favors for money regardless of whether they benefit the general populace or are for entirely selfish motives, like a profit margin for a legal fiction evil and corrupt men hide behind. It is that simple and that wrong. So what some good came out of it for Tufts. If you consider the Federal as whole and look at the inefficiencies the currently inherently corrupt system have inflicted upon the functionality of the Federal government, then the benefits that comes to places like Tufts do not outweigh the costs incurred in whole scale systemic dysfunction.

Posted by: Todd | March 8, 2007 02:38 PM

Martin are you gonna be the one that's gonna tell me and the rest of working stiffs that do not have time to babysit these K Street Punks which is good and which is bad. People like you cannot stand to pay tax, but if any big corp wants to rip us off for the sake of Wall Street, you like that.

Posted by: swtexas | March 8, 2007 02:43 PM

Staples. Simple access for all with no money changing hands and safeguards that limit corporate and foreign participation in the legislative process. The nuts and bolts can be worked out, there are many ways you could set it up, but it is 100% possible. I love that Bruce is the only one of you K-Street apologist willing to use a real, if fictitious, name. Batman, Staples, Medic, please kiddies. Is that what you want to be when you grow up? So come on, prove me wrong with logic and counterargument. Or do as you did yesterday, boy. I think it was funny in a pathetic way.

Posted by: Todd | March 8, 2007 02:50 PM

Whoever said that at this stage, it was not at all about the money, but rather getting much needed projects made, is correct. It later DID become all about the money and the ways they could get more. Which I believe led to the eventual breakup of the Schlossberg-Cassidy partnership.

Posted by: Grace | March 8, 2007 02:54 PM

Anyone who thinks the Wash Post can be spun is sadly mistaken. Only in the big media world does education spending constitute home the bacon. Tell that to the communities who benefit. Tell that to the Tufts grads who've benefited from Gerry Cassidy's work.

Posted by: Anon3 | March 8, 2007 03:08 PM

How about shipyards in Taiwan, would that get your interest?

Posted by: Nicklan | March 8, 2007 03:12 PM

DC Dave made me laugh about Ted Kennedy. New people? Heck, change the whole system. Transparency now!

Posted by: Funny | March 8, 2007 03:15 PM

Surely you can't argue with the fact that targeting money based on merit to schools is better than all the waste, fraud, and mismanagement the fed govt does now with education spending? I've got a tough time finding fault in any of this. But then again, maybe it's because I want education excellence.

Posted by: Education Wonk | March 8, 2007 03:18 PM

Martin, perhaps I did not make any sense- sorry if I did not. But I just get so angered over this whole K Street thing and then someone comes along telling me how great it is- it feels like somebody is p***ing on my leg and tellin' me it's rainin'!

Posted by: swtexas | March 8, 2007 03:21 PM

Todd what a cross you bear being the only enlightened one here. So you propose "access for all" so every crackpot constituent who wants $100,000 to start a llama farm can meet with their Congressman and Senators? That would make for an efficient system consisting of 9 billion appropriations requests.

Why not merely enforce more transparency, as Cassidy and many others inside and out of the Beltway favor? That addresses your money problem and more. With transparency comes media attention that leads to public outcry over frivolous earmarks and then they are stripped like the "bridge to nowhere."

Posted by: Drake | March 8, 2007 03:44 PM

Shipyards in Taiwan? I thought you were going to say shipyards in Mississippi. I'd say higher education funding is equally important.

Posted by: Nicklan At Nite | March 8, 2007 03:53 PM

Yes Drake yes! Prob isn't good funding, like to schools. It's things like the bridge to nowhere. That gets me upset. No prob with Cassidy helping push money for schools.

Posted by: Hostess | March 8, 2007 04:06 PM

I've been reading these comments for the last 3 days, and I'm puzzled. Those of you who are feeling so vitriolic towards lobbyists seem to forget that they are "hired" to do what they do. Leaving aside the fact that everyone is guaranteed the right to petition the government, if you want to criticize then you should direct your wrath to the folks who hire lobbyists. Corporations, small businesses, non-profit organizations, schools and universities and patient groups. Keep in mind, lobbyists to dream up these things; someone, somewhere hires them.

Posted by: Dennis | March 8, 2007 04:23 PM

is this an infomercial, and, when does the retelling of the K Street project begin?

Posted by: kennytal | March 8, 2007 04:42 PM

Interesting story, and interesting series. Dunno, I kinda like what Gerry Cassidy's doing. Not how I earn a living, but I'm into his story. I find no fault in what he's doing. More transparency would be good, of course.

Posted by: Dwight | March 8, 2007 05:06 PM

"those seeking profit, were they given total freedom, would not be the ones to trust to keep government pure and our rights secure. Instead it has always been those seeking wealth who were the source of corruption in government"

Anyone know what "crackpot" must have said those ridiculous idealistic words?

Posted by: Rachael | March 8, 2007 05:58 PM

I am always amused at the viewpoints represented here that lobbying is a "cancer" that has distorted our democracy. This is patently false and a complete misreading of the Constitution and history. There have been lobbyists in every government since the beginning of time. The US system, by virtue of the Constitution, brought it into the open and rightfully recognized the legitimacy of open communication between the government and citizens Why? Because, governments make decisions that affect private parties. Each person has the right (and I would say the repsonbility) to submit a point of view and provide information to elected officials so that the decisions are better informed. A corporation explaining to Congress the effect of public policy on its business and the jobs it creates is no different from the elderly lady who writes to her Congressman to ask his help to get her Social Security check. It is exactly the same exercise of a Constitutional right. There is no moral difference at all in two situations -- perfectly moral, legal, ethical, and necessary. If you think lobbying is an immoral business, ask yourself if you really would rather have the average Congressman make decisions in the absence of accurate information. This is a very frightening thought. They need MORE information, not less, and the only way they get it is from someone who "lobbies" - for a tobacco company or for the Boy Scouts. The beauty of the American system is that it is organized, regulated, and more transparent than any other system in the world.

Are there corrupt lobbyists who abuse the system? Yes, just as there are in every other field --religion, sports, education -- you name it. It is a virtual certainty, however, that the system will ferret out the corrupt lobbyist, as it should. Moreover, a lobbyist's success depends on his honesty and integrity -- you cannot last long in this town if you are short on either.

Posted by: MeMyselfandI | March 8, 2007 06:47 PM

Tut tut. EVERYONE knows that lobbyists are nothing but selfless humanitarians who only locate funds for the health and education of the neediest Americans. I am shocked -- SHOCKED -- that anyone would dare to claim that they are minions for corporations that disfigure our government with their billions. Tut tut!



Posted by: Scott in PacNW | March 8, 2007 07:27 PM

chapter 3 was a little slower, but I like chapter 4. Still an excellent series. Keep 'em coming!

Posted by: Bryan | March 8, 2007 07:50 PM

BTW, anyone else notice the banner ad for Mr Cassidy's selfless humanitarian blog at the top of this article? Glad to see WaPo is scrupulously separating advertising from editorial.

Posted by: Scott in PacNW | March 8, 2007 07:51 PM

To Me myself and I: This is the story of one lobbyist who perverted the age old art of advocacy. In the Tufts case, Cassidy, and a few cohorts in Congress, found a way to beat the system so that a particular school he was being highly paid to represent could play the game with a different set of rules. The issue is not whether the award to Tufts was meritorious. The Tufts example just shows that Cassidy and friends had found a way to circumvent established budgetary procedures for their own self-interest. None of the other advocates for schools who might have been more qualified had an opportunity to be heard. Read again what Califano said of it: "The earmarking of these funds for specially selected schools is entirely inappropriate" and Kaiser writes that even Senator Brooke, who represented the state where Tufts is located, "asked repeatedly why there shouldn't be national competition for the money." The point is that the money was awarded to Tufts by going around the people who were supposed to decide where and how a limited amount of dollars (for education or libraries or nutritional institutes or roads or whatever!) would best be spent. And I would guess those decisions would not be best made in a vacuum where no other voices are heard. Money for projects that haven't been vetted or debated can get put into an appropriation bill in the eleventh hour when it's too late to amend it so Members have to vote for something we need while earmarks they might oppose get to tag along. It's the clandestine earmark that has mucked up the entire process. A lobbyist's success depends on his honesty and integrity, you say? Well Mr. Cassidy has been around for a long time and he's certainly been successful...let's wait for further chapters in this series and see if your theory will hold true.

Posted by: Mary | March 8, 2007 08:03 PM

MemyselfandI, are you serious? Do you truly believe that an elderly woman, writing her elected official is the same as the lobbyist? The same lobbyist who happens to get face time with an elected official because the corporation they respresent just happened to have given thousands upon thousands of money during an election cycle fundraiser? Can that be contrived as illegal, well duh,no, that's the problem, but no person with an I.Q., higher than 90, doesn't get how the unspoken system works. You take care of me, I take care of you. That's why the playing field isn't fair. That's why our Democrcay is broken.

Posted by: Rachael | March 8, 2007 08:49 PM

Todd,you want a system where no money changes hands, that "lets Congressional members know the needs and wants of their constituents without ANY money ever changing hands or "favors" being granted." Are you in favor of public financing for congressional and presidential elections? Because if not, candidates will still need money to run their campaigns, and people, both lobbyists and non-lobbyists, will still write them checks for one reason or another. You don't have to be a lobbyist to ask a member of congress to do something that benefits you and write him or her a check the following week. And the more you limit the ability of people running for office to raise money, the more you get a Congress and a White House full of rich people who can pay for their own campaign. Which you probably don't want either. So how much of your federal income tax payment are you willing to contribute to the federal election campaign fund so no candidate ever has to raise money?

Posted by: Campaign Chekov | March 8, 2007 09:14 PM

This is for Lou who asked and everone else that was wondering. Kaiser calls it pork.
(Look who is paying those nasty lobbyists to represent their business interests)

Here is a sample from LDA registrations:

H.R. 3673 Second Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act to Meet Needs Arising From The Consequences of Hurricane Katrina, Funding for the Washington DC Tuition Assistance Program, Internet Equity Act, funding for tutoring programs and education benefit, immigration reform, Education and Secondary Education Act reauthorization, Free Flow of Information Act of 2005, Pension Reform, DC College Access Act, Rural Utilities service/agricultural appropriations, FCC media ownership rules and communication issues in appropriations vehicles, FCC rule making, Corporation of Public Broadcasting issues, Federal job training funds for the training and employment of rural workers in telecommunication jobs, H.R. 2673 Consolidated Appropriations Act, H.R. 2799 Commerce Justice State Appropriations Act, Appropriations Act 2007, all telecommunications related provisions, Appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration.

Client: Washington Post, Washington Post Co, Washington Post Company

Total spending $981,000 2001-2006 reporting period.

Educate then opinionate



Posted by: Alex L | March 8, 2007 09:17 PM

Something to keep in mind about education and lobbying; not all colleges hire lobbyists. Some open a Washington office with a few university employees who move here, and they do the lobbying on both education policy issues and for earmarks. And some colleges then decide it's cheaper to close the Washington office and hire lobbyists instead. Which makes more money available for educatin' those students I suppose. So some of those lobbyists you despise for getting college earmarks are just employees from the development office who got transferred here to do what they can to improve the school that employs them.
And we haven't even started here on defense money and lobbyists.

Posted by: thedarkside | March 8, 2007 09:24 PM

Mary, you don't get it.

"The earmarking of these funds for specially selected schools is entirely inappropriate" and Kaiser writes that even Senator Brooke, who represented the state where Tufts is located, "asked repeatedly why there shouldn't be national competition for the money."

You have to ASK for the money. In essessnce it is a national competition for the money because it is available to anyone who asks and shows good cause or presents a compelling case. Not everyone gets an award. Some times it takes years to get an award. Lobbyists compete with one another to secure wins for their clients. Don't fault the folks who do it well or better than others. Hilight those who lie to their clients about the contacts they they have on the Hill, fleece them for high fees and return $0 on the investment. Good lobbyists like attorneys, doctors, accountants and other consultants educate their clients about the process and the best way to increase the liklihood (not guarantee) of success. Anyone can hire a representative to further their cause. Nothing evil about it and only the truly pathetic continue to rail against the industry and blame them for all the ills. Me thinks those are a sorry lot that are in effective in selling themselves and their opinions and as a result show nothing but scorn for those that do it well.

Posted by: Gerrard | March 8, 2007 09:36 PM

Mary, now I know why I never bother to post anything on sites like this one. I do not need a lecture on the issues presented by Bob Kaiser's thoughtful treatment of the evolution of advocacy. I can read. I was commenting on the postings here which suggest that lobbying has destroyed or broken our democracy. Lobbying was clearly envisioned as a necessary and important element of democracy, otherwise it would not have been explicitly stated as a right of all citizens in the Constitution. There is competition of ideas and of appropriations-worthy projects. Maybe not specifically among parallel institutions, but certainly among education, nutrition, health, and welfare projects, etc. Even the appropriations process has to pass a certain laugh test. This outrage that Tufts, BU, and Georgetown figured it out first does not an immoral situation make. BTW -- Fr. George, former lobbyist for Georgetown, was (and is) one of the best lobbyists in town. So priest as lobbyist -- contradiction in terms? No,every religion employs lobbyists. Scientology (finally defined as a religion vs. a cult by the Supremes)has lobbyists but I doubt anyone finds that offensive because there are so many movie stars involved. If Tom Cruise lobbies, its so cool that he actually cares about public policy. He must be so enlightened. Other legitmiate interests are money-grubbing, immoral parasites. Absurd.

Posted by: MeMyselfandI | March 8, 2007 09:55 PM

MeMyselfandI: But you have posted...at least twice now.

Posted by: Mary | March 8, 2007 10:17 PM

I see the pro-lobbyists here repeated claim about a Constitutional right to Lobby. I assume that refers to the First Amendment "right of the people...to petition the Government for a redress of grievances". The People certainly have that right. Corporations are not the same as The People, and any claim that they have the same protection under the Constitution is questionable.

Posted by: Scott in PacNW | March 9, 2007 03:03 PM

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