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Chapter 8

After a bitter divorce, Schlossberg-Cassidy becomes Cassidy & Associates, and Gerald Cassidy takes the firm to dizzying new heights. But the main source of its business comes under fierce attack.

By Robert G. Kaiser

The name of the lobbying firm changed at the beginning of 1985: henceforth it would be Cassidy & Associates. It grew faster and faster, quickly becoming a money machine. In 1982, the firm had taken in $2.1 million in revenue; by 1987, this number would grow ninefold, to $18.8 million, and Cassidy was paying himself millions of dollars a year.

Clients were flowing to the firm in search of earmarked appropriations -- allocations for special interests from the federal treasury, appropriated directly by Congress. This was the big idea that Cassidy had helped pioneer. First it became popular, then it became controversial. In 1986, the controversy turned into a fight when the Senate tried to end the practice.

The fight was critical for Cassidy; losing could mean the end of his business. He was getting rich by helping second- and third-tier colleges and universities win earmarks, mostly to build new laboratories and buildings. This was popular among those who benefited, naturally, but many in the academic world, particularly in elite institutions, considered it political logrolling at the expense of academic integrity.

The controversy intensified as the practice grew; it grew largely because of the success of Cassidy & Associates. First came the basic technique: A school seeking federal funds for a new building, typically, hired Cassidy to prepare a formal proposal. Cassidy helped the school approach its congressman or senator with a plan. The member of Congress saw an opportunity to bring home some bacon. The member and the lobbyist then collaborated to build congressional support for the idea.

One reason the business grew was the system Cassidy fostered for finding new clients. He depended increasingly on "consultants" -- salesmen who worked for commissions of 10 percent of the fees that their clients paid to Cassidy. This was the model first exploited by William Cloherty, the fireplug from Medford, Mass., described in Chapter 6. It had many attractions, not least the fact that it could be copied again and again. James Fabiani, the detail man who had joined the firm in 1982 and became its principal marketer, recalled realizing that "you ought to be able to replicate this [relationship between university and lobbyist] the way McDonalds replicates its restaurants." But this required salesmanship, and then the manpower to look after the new clients.

[Photo]
Former University of Alabama President Frank Rose. (AP Photo)
Enter Frank Rose, an entrepreneurial academic who had been president of the University of Alabama from 1958 to 1969, where he established a thriving medical center and the research park adjoining the Huntsville facility of NASA, the space agency. When Fabiani met Rose he was in his 70s and suffering from lung cancer, but he was still active, representing the Georgetown University Hospital in Washington. They struck a bargain: Cassidy & Associates would give Rose an office and staff assistance, pay his expenses and service whatever clients he could bring to the firm. Like Cloherty, he would be paid a ten percent commission on all fees paid by the clients he introduced to the firm.

Rose's stature among university presidents was a salesman's dream come true. Fabiani recalled trips he and Rose took around the country: "In less than a year we visited 20 campuses and signed 19 new clients." Rose reassured college presidents that aggressively seeking earmarks from Congress was entirely appropriate. He argued that earmarks helped the Davids of academia, ambitious, up-and-coming institutions, compete with the Goliaths, the big-name institutions that belonged to the old-boy network that dominated government-funded research. And he could persuade them that large fees to Cassidy & Associates were a good investment. Rose would have made a small fortune from these clients had he lived long enough to collect all his commissions, but his lung cancer killed him in February 1991.

Rose attracted several other former university presidents as collaborators, most importantly Elvis Stahr, former president of West Virginia and Indiana Universities, Secretary of the Army under John F. Kennedy, and for many years president of the National Audubon Society.

[Photo]
Secretary of the Army and Mrs. Elvis J. Stahr, Jr. (Photo: Harry Naltchayan)

Rose and Stahr "were very important in making us credible, and also in making the case that it was appropriate for universities to go after direct funding from Congress," Cassidy recalled.

From the beginning Cassidy had a gift for knowing how much to charge. The fee did not have to reflect the actual number of hours he or his colleagues would spend on the client's appropriation. A monthly fee of $20,000 was not uncommon -- $240,000 a year. Nearly all contracts were for two years or longer. If the ultimate reward was $20 million or more in earmarks, this seemed like a bargain.

The need to "service" the growing number of clients prompted the hiring of new staff to the firm, young men who had worked as aides on Capitol Hill. The first addition was Frank Godfrey, who had worked for Tip O'Neill, the speaker of the House, and had befriended many members. Vincent Versage had worked for Sen. Spark Matsunaga (D-Hawaii) and had befriended other members of the Hawaiian Democratic cabal in Congress, including Sen. Daniel Inouye, an influential appropriator. Jonathan Orloff, an assistant to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), and George Ramonas, who had worked for an important Senate appropriator, Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), knew the Senate well. Don Smith was the first man hired who had worked on the staff of appropriations committees -- in his case, the House appropriations subcommittees on military construction and energy and water. Richard Pena was an assistant to Rep. Jim Wright (D-Tex.), O'Neill's successor as speaker. Elliott Fiedler came from the personal staff of Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), a senior appropriator.

None of these men had independent stature in Washington; they were classic back-room players, aides who got the actual work done. Typically, Cassidy raised their Hill salaries by 50 percent or more when they joined the firm, then added annual bonuses. Overnight, their personal fortunes were transformed.

At Cassidy & Associates they performed multiple tasks: designing projects that might be good candidates for an earmark; introducing clients to key members of Congress and staff assistants; teaching both members and staff how to package and promote an earmarked appropriation; applying pressure to members and staff at important junctures to try to get a client's project into an appropriations bill, or into the report that accompanies nearly every bill. Cassidy and his colleagues often relied on "report language" to direct a federal agency to spend money on a specific project sought by a Cassidy client.

The 1983 earmark that benefited Columbia University [see Chapter 6] was the first to attract significant public criticism. The early critics included the Association of American Universities (AAU), the 50-member organization of leading research institutions, and the National Science Foundation (NSF), created by statute in 1950 to supervise government efforts to fund and enhance scientific research. The AAU and NSF were the old boys in the old-boy network.

In 1986, one of the leaders of the AAU was the venerable William Danforth, chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis. Danforth was the older brother of Missouri's Republican senator, John Danforth. The academic brother persuaded his senatorial sibling that the practice of earmarking appropriations for specific academic institutions threatened America's scientific preeminence by allowing politics to influence the allocation of money for science. The AAU thought earmarks were "anti-science," John Danforth recalled years later. "I thought it was very, very bad," William Danforth confirmed.

[Photo]
John Danforth (left) and Washington University Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth. (WUSTL Photo)

"What bothered us was, the money was being given without any competition at all. Someone had decided to give these people a gift," said a leading critic, Jerold Roschwalb, the long-time Washington lobbyist of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.

The earmarks went primarily for the construction of new facilities. Grants for facilities were not the same as grants for research, which were traditionally allocated by a system of "peer review." Scholars sitting on review committees for the NSF, the National Institutes of Health or for other government-sponsored entities chose the projects most worthy of federal support. But "peer review" produced a consistent result: most of the money went to a small number of distinguished institutions, mostly in the Northeast and California. Not surprisingly, most of the "peers," the senior scientists who sat on the committees that made the research grants, were professors at those same institutions.

This is what bothered Rose, Stahr, and other critics of peer review. One of the most articulate was John Silber of Boston University, an early Cassidy client and eventually one of the firm's most loyal and lucrative customers. Cassidy & Associates became a center of anti-peer-review agitation.

They argued the case as a matter of fairness: the great universities of the East and West coasts had been chosen by the government years earlier to host the leading federally-supported research institutions: The Lawrence Livermore Lab at Berkeley, the Plasma Physics Lab at Princeton, the Jet Propulsion Lab at Cal Tech, the Lincoln Lab at MIT -- 19 of them in all - brought billions of dollars to those favored institutions and left scraps for the rest.

But with political help, universities outside the elite could get a fresh chance. Most importantly, they could get money to build world-class research facilities. "Obviously," Silber testified to Congress in 1985, "such facilities attract outstanding research scientists," who in turn would attract the most grants for research.

Wealthy, blue-blooded WASPs like the Danforths (their family owned the Ralston Purina Co.) were natural foils for working-class upstarts like Cloherty, Cassidy and Silber, who happily cast the dispute as the entrenched elite against ordinary folks.

In June 1986, Sen. Danforth proposed an amendment on the Senate floor that brought this dispute to a head. He proposed killing earmarks for 10 universities worth $80.6 million. Two of the ten were Cassidy clients. These earmarks were included in an "Urgent Supplemental Appropriations Act" whose ostensible purpose was to fund critical government operations. Proponents of the earmarks argued that the academic facilities they would fund would enhance the national defense. Danforth disagreed: "The issue before the Senate is whether research money to be spent for university research [is] spent according to a competition process whereby scientists ..... make that decision on the basis of merit," or based on "political logrolling."

Danforth and his allies characterized the earmarked funds to be "research money" and thus above politics. But to the defenders of earmarks, this was unfair and hypocritical. As one of them, Sen. Alfonse D'Amato of New York, put it, the earmarks did not fund research but "construction and renovation" of research facilities. "There have been no funds whatsoever set aside for this," D'Amato said, accurately. The federal government once had funded construction projects for universities, but those programs all died in the stringent budgetary climate of the late 1970s.

D'Amato had an earmark in the bill -- $11 million for the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) to build a microelectronic engineering center. RIT was a Cassidy client. With such a facility, it hoped to compete for Pentagon research contracts and other contracts that were then beyond its reach. Eventually this argument proved accurate; when RIT later did receive a federal appropriation to build the microelectronic engineering center, it was able to attract millions of dollars of peer-reviewed research grants.

On the other hand, there was no competition involved in the allocation of earmarks, save perhaps among lobbyists and members of Congress. As Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Tex.) pointed out in the debate, of the ten projects Danforth sought to kill, "not one has been requested by the Defense Department. Not one has been authorized by Congress. And not one would be subject to the established procedures for scientific competition." (Read the Congressional Record text of the debate [PDF].)

After a lively debate, the Danforth Amendment passed. The key recorded vote was 58-40. The Senate had emphatically rejected earmarks for universities of the kind Cassidy & Associates was promoting -- and exploiting to make a pile of money. The vote came as an unexpected shock to the firm.

"This was a great moment of truth, a turning point for the appropriations business," recalled Orloff, one of the young men Cassidy had hired to service his roster of new clients. With no time to spare, the Cassidy firm had to mobilize support for earmarking or face a devastating blow to its business.

Washington Post research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.

Tomorrow: Cassidy fights back.

Key Related Materials

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About This Series | Chapters:

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An overview of Gerald Cassidy's life and career.

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If there is any doubt this is a PR campaign for Cassidy, check out that snappy new rollover ad this swill has running on the Post's main page directing you to Gerry*s quote unquote blog. You get this ad about every other time you refresh the Post today. It is a true advertisement and the graphics are designed to be seamless with the theme the web builders started using with this supposed news article in the Washington Post. When you click the ad, it takes you to Cassidy & Associates web site, not the Washington Post. Still any doubt this is a PR effort to paint the graft merchants on K-Street in human terms so the masses of angry Americans won't rip them to shreds when their boys can no longer protect them. That day is coming too and they know it. Why else the PR? Gerry Cassidy is an enemy of democracy and the Constitution. He is part of a fascism promoting INDUSTRY that has usurped the legislative process from the citizenry.

Lobbying needs to go and it needs to go today. For those of you with questions as to why, I refer you to the comments sections of Chapters 6 & 7. Anyone wanting to argue that lobbying as practiced is not a pillar of fascism is welcome to try. Anyone arguing this series is not a PR love fest paid for by Cassidy for the benefit of Cassidy is an idiot.

Posted by: Todd | March 14, 2007 06:46 AM

Gerry Cassidy's Online Journal. Insight. Perspective. Like no one else. - Oh please.

Posted by: | March 14, 2007 06:50 AM

You know really stood out to me in this chapter? That Rose spent his final time on this earth, knowing he was battling lung cancer, lobbying with the dirt and filth in Washington. Maybe I am the only one who finds that incredibly sad and empty.

Posted by: Rachael | March 14, 2007 07:56 AM

Ok Todd, come clean... you were interviewed for this piece but were stifled when WPO couldn't find anyone other than your girlfried Rachael to support your claims and needed to exclude direct attribution to your ravings lest they be viewed as a tabloid more so than they already are. This medium allows you to get in your 15 minutes of fame none the less as any attempt to edit, limit your commentary would be met by a yawning dissertation on how censureship is the seed of facism.

Ok you win! May the gods foregive those of us with apparently far less intelligence. Now leave.

Posted by: Alex L | March 14, 2007 08:03 AM

Todd, do you ever have anything new to say that is specific to an article, or do you just copy and paste the same rant every day?

Posted by: Mitch | March 14, 2007 08:49 AM

This Todd guy must either be retired or unemployed, since he's got nothing better to do all day than to post a million entries a day. And his hatred is so that it sounds as if he was wronged in some way, and not just because he holds these views purely on ideology. Todd, go back to your job at the Daily Worker where people actually care what you have to say.

Posted by: I work for a living | March 14, 2007 09:08 AM

Todd,

I did not realize the gas station you work at has internet access.

Posted by: Anon | March 14, 2007 09:39 AM

Todd is absolutely correct. Unless there are federally funded political campaigns and a prohibition on earmarking, the corruption will continue. Public money should be just that: public. There should be hearings and oversight, justifications for these expenditures.

I can now see one reason why private universities are so costly...the paid Washington lobbyists are draining funds from students. My own children had no option about college. As middle class parents we simply could not afford a private college. Fortunately, they were accepted to a state university, but I had that option when I was their age and raised in a middle class family.

Posted by: Sad in Virginia | March 14, 2007 09:41 AM

Todd, look to the definition of fascism I cut and paste from Miriam-Webster I cut and paste yesterday. I'm through debating with you, because I took the time to actually try to respond to your points instead of talking about your space helmet or your gas station and you still flamed me and impugned my intelligence.

The Jefferson you claim to love said, "If [a] book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But for God's sake, let us freely hear both
sides if we choose." You've done nothing for this particular issue but try to bully everyone with a contrary view out. Have you helped anyone find the truth you think you have?

To Sad in Virginia, that is sad, but I would look to the over $3,000 dollar a second war we're in that kept Congress from appropriating more money for financial aid rather than the earmarks that benefit colleges and universities.

Posted by: Patrick | March 14, 2007 10:03 AM

Reading just this single episode give the historian a fascinating insight into the handicapped class struggle in modern America. How ignorant is bliss!!!!

Posted by: Dave | March 14, 2007 10:14 AM

Are there seven pillars of fascism, just like wisdom?

Posted by: Sportsfan | March 14, 2007 10:31 AM

Sour grapes, nitwits?

Posted by: Todd | March 14, 2007 10:33 AM

None of you have refuted me. Patrick has tried and is putting up a weak attack, but at least he is semi-cogent. Look all you K Street supporters, I have bested you at every turn. That means you too, Patrick. And Alex? Get stuffed, troll. You hammerheads can insult me all you want. Your insults are predicated that I care what fascist defenders think. As long as you do nothing to disprove what I have said in a concrete fashion, you look like spoiled petulant children throwing a hissy fit because someone wants to take the matches away from you. Keep it up. You are making the case that people backing lobbying are not only corrupt, but intractably stupid as well. Keep helping me prove that your type need to be eliminated from the political process in order to protect the Constitution.

Posted by: Todd | March 14, 2007 10:42 AM

Hey Mr. Dipstick I Work For A Living! Ever hear of IT, moron? I am within arms reach of a computer 24/7. Unlike your relationship with common sense.

Posted by: Todd | March 14, 2007 10:46 AM

Let me see if I'm hearing this right... ear-marked appropriations to build research facilities is now 'corruption?' Gimme a bleeping break. I'd rather they spend money on that then bridges to no where.

Posted by: Bryan | March 14, 2007 11:31 AM

What a pathetic waste of the Post's pages. It must be a slow news period. This guy's ego is amazing. Who's on the take for this PR?

Posted by: Donald | March 14, 2007 12:04 PM

Troll, eh. Yep that elloquently trumped my hand (sulking quiver). I'm out.

Why do I constantly envision the back drop to Todd's(Bastion of Good and Protectorate of the Masses) soliloquies to be someone on a mottled arab charger,battleworn armor catching the final rays of light, the wind gentley ruffling his (or her) hair, a lance slowly being raised for one last assault on that confounded windmill.

I am not insulting, just delicately (humorously) trying to say.... Ok we get your opinion and you are entitled to it, but stop the harping. Don't blow an artery "Besting" the lot. It's not like we are sitting here with our arms and legs cut off defending our insignificant bridge."None shall pass". Move on.

Posted by: Alex L | March 14, 2007 12:11 PM

The trouble is, is that you guys do not ever have any corrections for Todd. Whenever one of you guys get hit, you never seem to be able to convince any of how lobbying is anything other than legal bribery an blackmail. I do not think Todd would mind getting corrected if he is wrong. You just do not seem to understand that we are angered, ensenced by these little rich boys playing with our lives and we feel powerles to do anything about it. So grow some and stand up for what you think is Right- or just move to Dubai.

Posted by: swtexas | March 14, 2007 12:31 PM

Patrick yesterday you suggested making lobbying transparent. Who would make this thing transparent?

Posted by: swtexas | March 14, 2007 01:18 PM

Oh, I figured out you all were angry some time ago. Fair enough but shouldn't all that energy be directed toward progress or change. If I don't believe in something and think change is warranted I devote all my resources to changing it, not standing on a stump and screaming "Somebody do something!" There is nothing of Todd's to correct as it is opinion, all the facts about the goverment have not been presented to eek out all that is wrong. Just Todds opinion on this one point. The system he is referring to is apparently legal and routinely operated within the rules that have been established. To keep labeling everyone who is trying to make that one simple point a fascist, is reminicent of McCarthyism when everyone and anyone with an opinion diffrent from McCarthy was labled a communism. The fear of the lable, not the facts, kept people from challenging him and now perhaps Todd. Especially since apparently even the neutral observers are labled "K-Street lovers or walkers or something to that effect.
Maybe the only difference is that we are not standing in a hearing room debating the system.

I would publicly pay homage (respect) to Todd et al if they banded together, organized a rally and showed the countless throngs of those slighted, then you start talking public policy. Now its just a very loud exchange. Rational debate went out the window on day two. Now its just those of us with time on are hands, nothing better to do and the one that screams the loudest "Wins"

The attempted slight of "to Dubai" is another example of what I am talking about.

Posted by: Alex L | March 14, 2007 01:22 PM

And you do not get my point. You do not like what I say, then DO NOT READ IT. I will say what I like when I like until Bush signing statements the First Amendment out of existence. You want to stand up for fascism, you go right on. But if you just want me to go away, you can still get stuffed, troll.

Posted by: Todd | March 14, 2007 01:25 PM

What, Alex? Free speech for you and screw everyone else? Come on, tell me to be quiet again, nitwit. You cannot disprove any of my statements so like the rest of your retarded brethren you try suppression. Doh! Your brown shirt is showing.

Posted by: Todd | March 14, 2007 01:32 PM

Todd,

I wonder if you ever reread what you post. You sound like a lunatic. No one can debate you because you are not debating. You are in a frenzy of verbal masturbation -- alone in a closet ranting to yourself and in love with the sound of your own voice and the absurdity of your words.(I would say ideas, but your words do not rise to that level.) You are not saying anything of substance, so therefore no substance can refute you. You throw around the words "fascism" and" fascists" as if you were 13, just read the Communist Manifesto, had a zit breakout, and discovered that life is unfair. You obviously have no idea what the term means because it simply does not apply to anything in Kaiser's story. It is, however, painfully amusing to read what you write -- in the most base and sophomoric way. Those taunts are worthy of a kindergarten playground. It is not possible to take you seriously. I doubt the people who agree with you can take you seriously. You must have decided to go off your medication because you think you don't need it anymore.

Posted by: MeMyselfandI | March 14, 2007 01:33 PM

MeMyselfandI - Another anonymous K Street defending twit signs in. Good to have you aboard. Disprove my statements or be insulted like the rest of the ineffective minions of fascism. It makes no difference to me.

Posted by: | March 14, 2007 01:44 PM

That last comment was from me in case you cannot figure that out, MeMyselfandI. Go ahead. Call me crazy. Suppression does not work so let's try being dismissive. You have no skills at argument, so be careful bringing your knife to a gun fight. What is next? Someone calling me a lunatic AND telling me to shut up? Come on. Pathetic.

Posted by: Todd | March 14, 2007 01:47 PM

Todd -
Because I agree with a lot of what you conclude about D.C., I ask you to stop commenting. Your nasty, hostile attitude is damaging your own campaign to persuade others to your side.
Todd, you admire erudite factoids... please consider that in communication, content and words are only 15% of what people understand. What reverberates is the style, tone and emotion.
Your meaness is hurting the very beliefs you claim to lobby for... even to those who attempt reasonable discourse with you, you are low rent insulting and aversive.
DON'T HELP! unless you can behave maturely and focus more on changing other minds and less on demonstrating how superior you are in your own mind.
And Rachael, if you want to persuade people to consider your point of view, please stop referencing Todd and how much you admire him in your comments... It puts people off your side.
On Your Side

Posted by: On Your SIde | March 14, 2007 02:07 PM

Who would like it if we all just state what we think the solutions are to this lobbying cluster ****. Can we all agree that it is corupt?
My solution is to stop it all together to avoid any expense in babysittin' the little thieves.

Posted by: swtexas | March 14, 2007 02:14 PM

Alex L, Todd is proving Mills right when he talked about clashes of opinion with someone you think is wrong:

"The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error."

swtexas, who should provide greater transparency? Congress. But aren't they part of the problem? Yes, but they still are beholden to the electorate. Delay, Ney, Cunningham, et al. actually broke the law and are all out of Congress now, but there were also a great number of politicians hurt by Republican opposition to ethics reform when they lost their seats to Democrats who then enacted some reforms. Not enough? Then keep the pressure up in 2008.

Politicians will always do what's necessary to keep their jobs. If it's illegal, then we prosecute, if it's reluctant, who cares the system is still a little bit better.

James Madison said that we have a government of men and not of angels. If men were angels, they'd need no government. The best government is one that recognizes the non-angelic nature of man and balances conflicting interests. Rachel, Todd, swtexas, that's why I say that Cassidy isn't the worst thing to happen to Washington, in fact he made things a tiny bit better. No longer did ambitious white males in back rooms have sole domain over appropriations, now they were having to respond to organized persuasion efforts of constituent groups.

Posted by: Patrick | March 14, 2007 02:14 PM

I love ya Todd. You had some good things to say- but what is more satisfying is when you ask them a good question and they cannot answer you either because of guilt or ignorance. But I am angry Too.

Posted by: swtexas | March 14, 2007 02:22 PM

Who would like it if we all just state what we think the solutions are to this lobbying cluster ****. Can we all agree that it is corupt?
My solution is to stop it all together to avoid any expense in babysittin' the little thieves.

Posted by: swtexas | March 14, 2007 02:25 PM

Patrick thanks for answering.
I still feel like Cassidy and others never seemed to try to do ANYTHING about keeping things honest- so there is no way he can be any part of the solution, or whether or not he and others like looked the other way, or was a part in perpetuating this coruption.

Posted by: swtexas | March 14, 2007 02:33 PM

I've learned more about Cassidy & Associates in one week than I did in my years working there. I'm looking forward to the next few installments. Its going to be interesting, I'm sure.

Posted by: anon | March 14, 2007 02:34 PM

I'm with Todd. Maybe we should run HIM for president. Ha! The rest of the field isn't cutting it for me. I know they like Obama and Edwards over at Kos, but they're still part of the inside the beltway problem. We gotta look elsewhere. Anyone know any good names of folks to run in 2008?

Posted by: Vote for Todd | March 14, 2007 02:36 PM

to On Your Side:

Clearly you Do Not Get It.

Your type would have this debate happening live on Fox News moderated by Sean Hannity.

Sometimes you have to push people too far to get them to go halfway. Being polite and genteel about things is not the way to get things done. Americans need to wake up.

Count me in with Todd and Rachael.

Posted by: Mangicom | March 14, 2007 02:39 PM

By far the worst part of this series is Todd ranting on and on about the same old thing. I am certainly not a Cassidy fan, but give it a rest. Todd - do something constructive if lobbying must go - ranting in a blog will not help - especially when your attitude is so hostile. If your argument is good (which I believe it kind of is) you are blowing it with the tude. Relax and take a deep breath

Posted by: ssmith | March 14, 2007 02:45 PM

I'll bet you anything Sean Hannity tonight will talk about those judges that Clinton fired. It's completely different from what Gonzales tried to do. They keep pushing the right wing talking points. Hate to say this, because I don't think Hillary can really change anything, but she's right in talking again about the vast right wing conspiracy. That's Sean Hannity all the way.

Posted by: Marky | March 14, 2007 02:51 PM

Who would like it if we all just state what we think the solutions are to this lobbying cluster ****. Can we all agree that it is corupt?
My solution is to stop it all together to avoid any expense in babysittin' the little thieves.

Posted by: swtexas | March 14, 2007 02:55 PM

Marky did you see Hillary speak to the firemans union today. I saw it on cable, she began by saying something like thank you for a great time last night.
what's up with that? I think she's too much of a lightning rod for us right now. Kucinich is too flaky, but he has the right stances on the issues. Why can't anyone more serious say what he's saying?

Posted by: Where's Chelsea | March 14, 2007 03:01 PM

swtexas, I hear your frustration. Cassidy and Associates is a business and their goal is to make money. They're very good at that, according to the Post anyway. This is why I could never be a libertarian, because if you give the market free-reign it will do what it does best: make money. Then the rest of us suffer.

The solution, therefore comes from public pressure on legislators in the form of the electorate and client pressure on lobbying firms. The first we all understand, but the second is that if universities or other clients see Congressmen are terrified of talking to lobbyists and therefore they aren't getting funding, then lobbyists will change their behavior to create a climate that lets them make money again. In this way, you and Rachael are a big help in vocally demanding the system be more responsible, though I hope you take action and aren't just posting. Make your congressman quiver!

Posted by: Patrick | March 14, 2007 03:29 PM

I was just watching snippets of that fireman thing on msnbc. I dunno, looks like they're pandering, too - the same game as the right winger loonies. i'm talking serious change, someone fresh.

Posted by: Vote for Todd | March 14, 2007 03:36 PM

I've been raising hell with my Congressmen, but all I get is cokie-cutter letters and they are sooo condescending, then I get angry and abusive just to see if it might attract their attention- I'm pissed!!!!
They bite the hands that feed them. I want it to boomerang on them!

Posted by: swtexas | March 14, 2007 03:43 PM

I hate to say this, swtexas, but you need a lobbyist. A quick google search turned up a number of interest groups working for lobby reform. If you combine your voice and dollars with others, your congressman will have to recognize you. It's easy to shrug off one vote, but quite a few elections have been lost with less than 1,000 vote difference.

Posted by: Patrick | March 14, 2007 03:50 PM

Once again, Todd proves me right. Yes, I could tell the comment was from you; no one else is that immature.

I can't disprove you, Todd, because you are not saying anything coherent worth disproving. Sophomoric insults do not constitute reasoning, debate, facts, or argumentation. You ooze mean-spiritedness. As I said, even those who agree with you can't take you seriously. And this is not a knife fight or a gun fight so I need not bring either. It's a discussion. Suppression? Clearly no one has the ability to "suppress" you, otherwise you would shut up and put us out of your misery. It would be interesting to know your age because you act my shoe size. Grow up.

Posted by: MeMyselfandI | March 14, 2007 04:23 PM

swtexas,
I'm pissed too. You're absolutely right about those condescending letters. Cuts across party lines. Not just the Repubs, but our guys (and gals) too. How can we change the system? I don't mean just tuning out the right wing media, I mean taking over the white house. does the person have to be a frontrunner to get our backing. Seriously, why not someone like Kucinich? Is Obama acceptable to us? I can learn to like him.

Posted by: Vote for Todd | March 14, 2007 04:33 PM

Don't you think that if you nominate Kucinich, or even Obama, you're handing the White House over to four more years of Republicans?

Posted by: Dwight | March 14, 2007 04:34 PM

Are you guys serious? You want to reform the system so that you don't get form letters? Gimme a break. More than likely your member knows how the consituents feel otherwise they don't get re-elected.

If you want to be heard, join a group that advocates for you like the environmental groups or the national farmer's assn I don't know. Form your own group.

The system of having professional advocates and lobbyists isn't going to end and shouldn't. Reform should be made based on real problems. With all the members who've been caught in scandal, I'd say that system's working.

Posted by: c'mon | March 14, 2007 05:11 PM

FYIFBI:We and the Cassidys remain the best of friends and we have never been in business with them.

Posted by: T & L | March 14, 2007 05:35 PM

MeMyselfandI - I have said more of substance than you and I stand by it. You, on the other hand, have done nothing but blow hot air. You know, there is something else you can blow too unless you want to say something with SUBSTANCE other than I AM A IDIOT and being DISMISSIVE OF ME AS A CHILD. You come up with something worth talking about, you will get some respect. Until then, I am sure your name is an indication of you the extent of you interpersonal relationships. Half-wit.

Posted by: | March 14, 2007 05:53 PM

ssmith - Thank you for your concern, but I am a firm believer in treating people with the respect that they accord me. If someone comes up with civil counters, I will respond in a civil fashion. If all I am going to get is nonsense and insults, then I will treat the attackers accordingly.

Posted by: Todd | March 14, 2007 05:58 PM

Patrick - I will stipulate your point that Cassidy is not the worst of the lot. But that is a little like saying, "Hey, that guy is shooting at me a lot less than his buddy! Maybe I should cut him some slack."

Posted by: Todd | March 14, 2007 06:05 PM

Vote for Todd - Good Lord! No. Thanks for the sentiment and support, but if you voted for me it would be the nation's first shotgun Presidency. Think Ernest T. Bass supervising the Oath of Office.

Posted by: Todd | March 14, 2007 06:20 PM

Vote for Todd & Dwight - Kucinich does say some very interesting things but his delivery is just so . . . unfortunate. Do either of you know his stance on lobbying? I have neither heard him speak on it nor have I had time to look into it.

Posted by: Todd | March 14, 2007 06:28 PM

On Your Side - I do not care what anyone thinks of my intellect either positive or negative. I do not care if you dislike the words I choose or the concepts I discuss. I don't care if you don't like anything about me. You could think I smell funny and it would be fine with me. I do not base my senses of self worth and well being in the opinions those outside my immediate family and friends. Sorry you felt intimidated.

Posted by: Todd | March 14, 2007 06:41 PM

Todd, you sure don't like to be insulted, but you throw insults out like candy. What's up with that?

Posted by: JimBob | March 14, 2007 07:23 PM

Patrick, I have to disagree with your statement "that's why I say that Cassidy isn't the worst thing to happen to Washington, in fact he made things a tiny bit better. No longer did ambitious white males in back rooms have sole domain over appropriations, now they were having to respond to organized persuasion efforts of constituent groups."

Here's what Senator Bingaman (D-NM) said in support of the Danforth amendment referenced in today's chapter:

"In summary, let me tell the bad results which I see coming from the pork-barrel process for awarding Federal funds to universities. First, scarce resources are diverted from higher priority university projects. Second, colleges are encouraged to become more involved in political strategies for obtaining funds than in developing the most competitive new scientific proposals. Scientists who have developed truly meritorious new proposals quickly learn that they have been politically outmaneuvered, and must divert their energies to political gamesmanship to obtain needed funds. We are risking the prospect that our scientists and engineers will become increasingly cynical and disillusioned with the log-rolling process which does not consider academic excellence
and merit as its principal criteria in the allocation of funds. We have heard an almost unanimous voice from the scientific community in opposition to the log-rolling approach. We have heard from the National Academy of Sciences, the American Physical Society, the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, the Association of American Universities, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and numerous individual university presidents. We have also heard from the Defense Department and other executive agencies in opposition to this approach."

Congress is still awarding research money to colleges through the "pork barrel process" rather than in response to the "organized persuasion efforts of constitutent groups" that you describe. And while I don't disagree that there are lobbying groups who represent organized constituent groups, AARP for example, that can and do influence policy, that is not the case with the earmarks in question. Otherwise I doubt BU would be paying Cassidy almost a $1 million a year to represent them. Those opposing the Danforth amendment said the system of peer review of university research proposals was unfair because the scientists who sat on that committee were biased in favor of the elite universities and those same universities always got the funds. But instead of lobbying to change the way the proposals were reviewed---let's say by maybe rotating which scientists sat on the committee so there was better national representation---they found a loop-hole which made certain lobbyists very rich, made certain Congressman and Senators look very good to their constituents, and made people like me very skeptical that I was getting a good bang for my very hard-earned buck. Not to mention what it probably has done to tuition costs now that universities have to pay to have any chance to play.

Posted by: Mary | March 14, 2007 07:24 PM

How about that Jack Abramoff? He sure was a big lobbyist.

Posted by: Wilson | March 14, 2007 07:25 PM

One thing you can say in Abramoff's defense: he didn't do earmarks.

Posted by: Jacksonville | March 14, 2007 08:26 PM

JimBob - Like I said, I give what I get.

Posted by: Todd | March 14, 2007 09:45 PM

Wow, lots being discussed today. FYI to "on your side", I happen to think Todd has terrific points, and I also find his anger credible, I can relate. I find it interesting that almost all the people blogging here speaking in defense of lobbying, mostly men, I might add, are hoping if they just say it enough, people will believe their false idea that lobbying and the money it brings to elected officials hasn't completely corrupted our Democracy. Most Amercians know we are witnessing the demise of our Democracy. I live in the real world, a world where I am terrified for the future for my children, 2 and 5. At this point, all citizens have are there votes, and when you don't have real honest candidates to choose from, what good is your vote. The ones with the real power right now are the corporations, working through their lobbyist to get what is good for their bottom line. Who here does not recall the medicare prescription fiasco? The vote was kept open for hours while lobbyists for the drug companies continued to plead$$$$ their cause to elected officials. THAT IS NOT DEMOCRACY PEOPLE!!! Mary and Swtexas, go get em'

Posted by: Rachael | March 14, 2007 09:59 PM

Patrick,
I actually AM very active in many issues. I do all the things that is required to be a participant in citizenship, I can tell you it is hard work, many hours away from my kids. Volunteers are no match for paid lobbyists when it comes to creating change. I don't mean to burst your bubble, but it is going to take a tidal wave to change what is happening not only in Washington, but at the state level also.

Posted by: Rachael | March 14, 2007 10:08 PM

Todd, You really like to throw around the term of fascism without understanding what it is. What you call laissez-faire capitalism is not fascism. Fascism sseks a powerful state. Laissez-fair capitalism seeks a small state. Fascism was Italy under Mussolini, not the United States under Bush (though I'm not a Bush supporter). Perhaps some reasoned discourse would be better than all this name calling.

Posted by: truthseeker | March 15, 2007 08:59 AM

Todd writes earlier, "Hey Mr. Dipstick I Work For A Living! Ever hear of IT, moron? I am within arms reach of a computer 24/7. Unlike your relationship with common sense."

Now, I wonder what his employer would think of him constantly posting comments that are mean-spirited and obviously not connected to work..... Oh, and I have heard of IT, you moron. It's the field people go into after graduating with a 2.5 GPA from community college.

Posted by: I work for a living | March 15, 2007 10:13 AM

I work for a living - Did I ever say I WORKED in IT, moron? I use IT. Thanks for another substandard reply and personal attack.

Posted by: toddradian | March 18, 2007 07:12 PM

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