About This Series | Chapters:

Chapter 9

An intense lobbying campaign defeats Sen. Danforth and buries the opposition to academic earmarks.

By Robert G. Kaiser

When the Senate voted 58-40 on June 6, 1986, to eliminate 10 earmarked appropriations for universities worth $80.6 million, "it was a total surprise," Gerald Cassidy recalled years later -- and a grave threat to his business.

Only two of the 10 were paying Cassidy clients, Arizona State University and Rochester Institute of Technology, but the threat was generic, not specific to his clients at that moment. Sen. John Danforth, prompted by his brother William Danforth, chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis and past chairman of the Association of American Universities (AAU), had persuaded the Senate to strip those earmarks from an appropriations bill. The Danforths were trying to stamp out the increasingly popular phenomenon of directing -- "earmarking" -- specific appropriations to named academic institutions. They were threatening Cassidy's most important business.

William Danforth, as head of Washington University, supported his brother's campaign against earmarks.(Photo: Courtesy of Bernard Becker Medical Library)

Cassidy and his colleagues went to battle stations. The firm's research department quickly produced a loose-leaf notebook crammed with information on the subject that was circulated to congressional offices. The material included an analysis of how federal support for science was distributed -- mostly to a few schools. In Fiscal 1985, for example, 55 percent of federal spending for research at American universities went to 20 schools, all but one (the University of Washington) located in the Northeast, upper Midwest and California.

Cassidy and his colleagues called in chits all over the Hill. "We probably met with at least two dozen senators on the issue. I would bet we met during that couple of weeks 60 or more senators and staff. . . . We reminded members what they had got from the [appropriations] committees was one of the important things [they had gotten]. We just researched a period of four or five years to show them what they had gotten through appropriations -- was that something they were interested in giving up?"

"What they had gotten" was earmarks and other forms of pork -- the bacon that many senators thought it was their job to bring home to their states.

Sen. Edward Kennedy helped lead the fight against the Danforth amendment.(Photo: Getty Images)

Jonathan Orloff, a Cassidy employee who had come from the staff of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, recalled his efforts to engage Kennedy in the debate. "He had an abiding interest in helping universities," Orloff said -- including Boston's Northeastern University, which was due to receive an earmark worth $13.5 million under the bill being debated. Speaker Tip O'Neill had personally supported that earmark. Kennedy called half a dozen senators looking for votes against the Danforth amendment, Orloff remembered. The firm mobilized "our friends on the Hill who had worked with us," recalled another lobbyist then working for Cassidy.

While they lobbied senators, Cassidy and his allies also worked on the House. The Senate spending bill to which the Danforth amendment had been added on June 6 differed from a similar bill passed by the House; the two versions would have to be compromised into one bill by a conference committee. The earmarks that Danforth had targeted enjoyed powerful support from O'Neill and important members of the House Appropriations Committee who took part in the conference. Many of the Senate conferees, led by Mark Hatfield (R-Ore.), were also sympathetic to earmarks and hostile to the Danforth amendment. The conference committee restored nine of the ten earmarks eliminated by the Danforth amendment, sending them back to the Senate for a second vote on June 26, 1986.

Danforth again proposed to knock out the disputed earmarks. He tried to provoke his colleagues' indignation at the spectacle of universities "transformed" by the promise of pork "into institutions that . . . pay lobbyists" to help them "get into the pork barrel."

Sen. William Proxmire (D-Wis.), one of Danforth's few supporters on the Appropriations Committee, wondered aloud why the conference committee had ignored the Senate's original vote and restored all but one of the original earmarks, benefiting seven lucky states. Why those seven? Because "they had patrons in the conference . . . who look out for them," he answered his own question. He was referring to O'Neill, Sen. Robert J. Dole, the Republican leader (the bill had two earmarks for Kansas universities), and numerous appropriators who wanted to preserve earmarking.

In the floor debate on Danforth's second attempt to kill the earmarks, Dole disclosed to his colleagues that many academics actually favored earmarking. "Just this morning," Dole said, "I received a telephone call from Dr. Jean Mayer, the president of Tufts University. He firmly believes that Congress has every right to direct where the research money that it appropriates goes . . . " Mayer, Cassidy's first earmark client, just happened to telephone the Republican leader in the Senate on the day of this critical vote.

Dr. Jean Mayer of Tufts University, a Cassidy client, helped lobby against Danforth's amendment.(Photo: The Washington Post)

A number of senators took their cues directly from Cassidy's briefing book. Carol Casey, then Cassidy's research director and principal author of the book, acknowledged as much in an interview: "We provided talking points to a number of people on the Hill, and some of them, as they sometimes do, followed them verbatim. That was their choice."

Danforth had won the first round on a 58-40 vote. After three weeks of intense lobbying, he lost the second round, 56-42. Seventeen senators reversed their votes, a mix of Democrats and Republicans, liberals, moderates and conservatives. Just six of the Senate Appropriations Committee's 29 members voted for Danforth's amendment. Only one senator who had opposed Danforth on June 6 supported him on June 26 -- the rest of the switches were all against him.

Switching Votes

Senators of the 99th Congress voted twice in 1986 on the Danforth Amendment, which would have eliminated specific earmarked appropriations from a defense appropriations bill for academic institutions. Seventeen senators who voted for the amendment when it was first considered reversed their positions two weeks later.

SOURCE: Congressional Quarterly Almanac | GRAPHIC: Alice Crites and Cristina Rivero, The Washington Post

Probably the opponents' most telling argument was an appeal to Senatorial pride: Did members want to maintain control of federal spending in support of higher education and research, and enjoy the gratitude of those who received the money? Or would they rely on a competitive process of evaluation by experts, known as "peer review?"

Sen. Russell Long of Louisiana, a horse-trading politician of the old school, made the point with ripe sarcasm in the floor debate: "When did we agree that the peers would cut the melon or decide who gets this money? I have been around here for a while. I do not recall that I ever agreed to that . . . I would rather depend on my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee than on one of those peers."

Reading the debates today, it's clear that "peers" was, for many senators, a stand-in for "elites." The elite schools had friends, led by Danforth, a graduate of Princeton and the Yale law and divinity schools, but not as many as the earmarkers had. Even the Massachusetts senators, Kennedy (a Harvard graduate) and John F. Kerry (a Yale graduate) voted against Danforth. (Read the Congressional Record text of the debate [PDF].)

Cassidy considered the tall, elegant Missourian -- scion of the family that founded the Ralston-Purina Co. -- the ideal opponent in a dispute over earmarks for non-elite universities. "It was an argument about essentially the privileged and the blue bloods vs. the unenlightened who were trying to rise up from their current condition," he recalled. Beating Danforth pleased the lobbyist mightily.

The second Senate vote "pretty much put a cork in the issue,"

Cassidy said years later. "At times like that, this job can actually be fun."

But it wasn't all fun. The debate on the Danforth amendment brought Cassidy a kind of personal notoriety he had never previously known. It came from Danforth himself, who said during the second debate on June 25:

"Here is the state now of the relationship between our academic community and the federal government. There is a lobbyist in town named Mr. Cassidy. This Mr. Cassidy goes around to colleges and universities and says, 'Pay me $2,000 a month for a minimum of 2 years and I will help you to get government grants.' . . . It is just plain wrong for colleges to be bellying up to the trough of the federal government. If they want research grants to do research for our government, it should be on the basis of their competence and their ability, not on hiring a lobbyist and getting into the pork barrel."

Danforth had his numbers wrong. Cassidy's fees usually began at $10,000 a month, and many universities paid monthly retainers of $20,000 or more for his services. But he had the lobbyist's name right, and he'd identified the game, too. Cassidy remembers someone calling him when Danforth was on the floor making this statement -- "are you watching this?" his friend asked. He turned on C-SPAN.

Sen. Tom Harkin took the Senate floor to defend Cassidy. (Photo: The Washington Post)

Within an hour, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa was on the floor defending Cassidy. "I was quite astounded sitting in my office to hear the name of an individual for whom I have a high regard who is not a member of the Senate, but an individual in the private sector. . . . I could not believe my ears to hear his name and his firm used in a rather pejorative sense. The individual referred to, Mr. Cassidy, does indeed have a firm in Washington . . . There are over 50 people employed in this firm in helping universities develop and grow. I cannot think of more laudable work to be done than in helping to build the scientific and educational base of this country."

Cassidy had been in business for nearly 11 years, and his name had rarely appeared in any newspaper. On the rare occasion that a reporter called, Cassidy usually declined to answer any questions. Mentions of his name by Danforth and Harkin on the Senate floor were unprecedented, and also unwelcome. Cassidy had decided he didn't want or need publicity. He preferred to fly under the Washington radar.

Washington Post research editor Alice Crites contributed to this report.

Tomorrow: An unwelcome public run-in with the chairman of Senate Appropriations Committee.

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.

What surprises me is the inability of the universities to lobby on their own behalf. Surely they had wealthy donors who were connected to the political circles of the lobbyists?----That said, I have a hard time demonizing this form of lobbying. The efforts resulted in substantial investment at a broad swath of universities instead of the same elite few. I see that as productive, rather than detrimental.----So what that they made some money doing it. People make money taking food, reheating it and serving it to you in a restaurant. I find it funny to listen to people demonizing lobbyists when in fact I get the feeling some lobbying is needed to get stuff done.

Posted by: Bryan | March 15, 2007 01:02 AM

$20,000 a month. That about says it all on the equal access debate. I am sure the average American can easily afford $140,000 a year in 1986 dollars to get their Senator or Representative to do the job they were elected and paid to do once already. That is fair, equitable and democratic . . . in fantasy land.

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 05:42 AM

-- $240,000 in 1986 dollars -- Sorry, disgusting coffee often equates to typos.

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 05:56 AM

Interesting. The Washington Post wiped out earlier postings for Chapter 9 this morning. I will say it again then. $20,000 a month about sums it up on the equal access debate. I am sure the average American can easily afford $240,000 in 1986 dollars to get their Representative or Senator to do the job they were elected to and paid for once already. That is fair and democratic . . . in Fantasy Land.

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 06:06 AM

Post IT -- What is up with this appearing/vanishing quotes? Having problems with your NSA parsing software?

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 06:08 AM

To Mr. Kaiser - In your interview, you supported lobbyists based on some of the same Constitutional protections that cover journalists free speech covers lobbyists. Specious reasoning, Mr. Kaiser. Lazy reasoning, too. If you had a machine that produced two products, one was beneficial but the other was toxic, would you continue to run the machine if the toxic product was damaging the rest of of the manufacturing process and the markets or would you retool your processes to eliminate the inefficiency causing toxins while retaining the previous beneficial manufacturing capacity? The "integrity of journalism", such as it is, could easily be preserved while kicking lobbyists and lobbying to the curb. However, when you have the toxins determining the management strategy of the factory, the chance for revising process against them is a rigged game. As much as I detest your big wet sloppy kisses to fascist corporatism promoting vermin like Cassidy, even if he is one of the cleaner rats, please keep them coming. Your PR campaign is backfiring nicely.

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 06:21 AM

There is a misprint here: John Kerry went to Yale, not Harvard.

Posted by: Phil B. | March 15, 2007 07:23 AM

Post IT! Shame on you! You have the comments set to where in order to view them, you have to submit one. EVEN A BLANK HIT TO THE SUBMIT BUTTON BRINGS THEM UP. It was not set that way originally. It is also way too "convenient" a bug considering. What is the matter? Is Mr. Cassidy complaining about those pesky logical citizen comments spoiling is high dollar PR campaign?

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 07:30 AM

Can you tell me what was the last project promoted by any of these folks that was not for peronal gain but the public good of America ? Are their any at all that they promoted because it was the right thing to do.

Posted by: Nicklan | March 15, 2007 08:42 AM

So, who is ready to stamp out lobbying Today?? And Rachael I am really jealous about you and Todd- I guess some guys got it and some guys don't.

Posted by: swtexas | March 15, 2007 09:38 AM

What's John Danforth doing right now? He'd be a good presidential candidate (Unity '08?) but I bet he's too old now.

Posted by: Skittles | March 15, 2007 10:10 AM

I saw all the talk here yesterday about who might be our best candidate for President. Mind if I float a trial balloon here? Are you ready? OK, how about Keith Olbermann! Very smart, very intelligent, a great broadcaster, and definitely one of us. He'd be great in a debate. Could really smack Rudy or Mccain around. What do ya'll think about Keith?

Posted by: Keith! | March 15, 2007 10:28 AM

Does the Post know they're running a loony bin here?

Posted by: St. Elizabeth | March 15, 2007 10:31 AM

Keith! - While I like him, I suspect Mr. Olbermann is a bit like me in that it would be a shotgun Presidency. He would be the first President to answer the Oath of Office with, "Well since you gave me no choice . . ." I am pretty sure Keith is happy with his current gig. I know I would be for a fact. Good pay, bosses stay out of his way and let him work, ratings rising like a rocket, having your primary foil be so stupid and inhuman (Bill O'Reilly) that it provides a very robust good TV turkey shoot. And on top of it, he has one of the best baseball card collections in the country if not the world. It is good to be Keith.

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 10:35 AM

Yes, Keith is definitely great. Might even be presidential timber. Why not, right? He's the only guy I'll watch now, certainly not Faux News. So if there's a Keith Olbermann boomlet happening, sign me up. (I hope he'll bring our troops home).

Posted by: Phillip | March 15, 2007 10:36 AM

Post IT - Thanks for fixing that button issue.

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 10:36 AM

Elizabeth, you're right -- that's why this has become my favorite feature on the Post.

I came for Cassidy. I stayed for Todd.

Posted by: sportsfan | March 15, 2007 10:43 AM

Keith! Keith! Keith! He was great last night, BTW

Posted by: Another Keith Fan | March 15, 2007 10:45 AM

Glorifying lobbyists is an unspeakable journalistic waste. Buying and selling influence, and the enabling rules, are ultimate insults to voters. As usual, the greedy rich push their way to the front of the line while the politicians wait for them with open pockets.

Posted by: | March 15, 2007 10:49 AM

Hey, I'm back. I still like Todd (smile). But Olberman? Hmmmmm. I do like his politics. He attacks the right wingos all the time. But I've read that he might not be all that, ahem, stable. if you get my drift. I guess put that in the we could do worse dept.

Posted by: Vote for Todd | March 15, 2007 10:54 AM

Interestingly, there are times when I also like Tucker Carlson. Every so often he attacks Bush. I think Cheney (I say it chee-nee) too. But Keith's da man!

Posted by: Another Keith Fan | March 15, 2007 11:08 AM

Robert Kaiser is the WORST... PERSON... IN THE WOOOOOOORLD!

Posted by: K31th is teh R0XX0RZ | March 15, 2007 11:20 AM

Worse than Billo? Heh. Def not worse than Bush/Rove/Cheney

Posted by: Another Keith Fan | March 15, 2007 11:25 AM

Olberman? Why not.

Posted by: Dwight | March 15, 2007 12:00 PM

Hmm, only two attempted dismissives today and no insults or K Street apologist/defenders. I guess they didn't do the math and figure out that they just gave a perfect example of why lobbying is exclusionary and corporatistic, furthering the climate of fascism. Every citizen I am sure is willing to pay a quarter million dollars a year in graft to get their Constitutionally guaranteed equal representation. Mr. Kaiser? Is Cassidy asking for a refund or a discount?

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 12:18 PM

Wow, I get bogged down with work, come back and it's Toontown in here. I don't know, sportsfan, I think the Post comments are a good thing but this is just bad for everyone. And I had the same problem as Todd.

Danforth always struck me as too much a scold and this installment reminds me of why. No great fan of Tom Harkin but he was right on this. Few universities have endowments anything like Harvard has, and state governments have gotten worse and worse at funding education.

As for William Danforth, talk about sour grapes.

Posted by: Martin | March 15, 2007 12:21 PM

Can we get rid of Todd? What a twerp!

Posted by: Brian | March 15, 2007 01:07 PM

Hey Swtexas, no hard feelings!
I was thinking this morning, trying to argue for the rights of lobbyists to continue to corrupt our government is like saying there is a bright side to global warming. And, let me add here, there are plenty of oil companies who believe there is, i.e. opening up the Artic to a brand new shipping route without the ice requiring sailing around a longer route. Now, any person who does not see that what is happening, the merger of business wealth, political influence, and the demise of citizen interest, is NOT learning the lessons Mussolini taught. We ARE on the brink of a fascist State. We teeter on the edge of fighting for Democracy or falling into an Abyss of which we cannot return. Once again, I invite everyone to check out Cassidy's website, they lobby for anyone and everyone who will pay their parasitic fee. Stop acting like the guy ever gave a crap for higher education, he has a chip on his shoulder the size of Saturn. He couldn't wait to stick it to the "rich" upper crust of society, but in the end he really is sticking it to the regular citizen who no longer has a voice in government. Maybe he always, deep down, hated to have Schlossberg as the ruling partner, despising his somewhat priviledged background. With Cloherty he found a peer with the same twisted greedy quest to try to get beyond his low self-esteem by believing that moeny would prove to everyone he was as good as they were.

Posted by: Rachael | March 15, 2007 01:07 PM

Wonder if we could get any ex-lobbyists to help me start a no lobbying movement, or anyone that knows how to help me get going- I am serious about this!! Todd?, Rachael?, Mary? But more than anything, I want one of THEM on THE PEOPLE's side. I don't think any of them have the nads for it though. Fighting for what is right can be quite painful at times and it separates the men from the boys, the girls from the women. No, they couldn't/wouldn't do it.

Posted by: swtexas | March 15, 2007 01:28 PM

Brian -- Twerp? You must be kidding. Please. What is the matter? Is the big bad anti-fascist ruining your day? Awww, poor puddy tat.

Rachael, swtexas - Go get 'em, tigers!

And you are right about getting an "ex-lobbyist" to help do squat, swtexas. There is no such thing as an "ex-lobbyist". That is part of the reason that people calling Cassidy a force for positive reform are essentially saying they want a junkie (graft spreading parasite) to manage reform on heroin laws (lobbying/campaign finance). This guy would sell his soul if he had one. So would everyone else associated with lobbying as currently formulated. But is all okay in Cassidy's case because he had a crappy childhood.

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 01:43 PM

You have thrown in your lot with Todd? If you meet him at Starbucks, be careful not to let on when you (inevitably) disagree even a little bit with him. For example, when Todd learns Cassidy also quotes Jefferson in his blog, Todd probably will accuse you of conspiring with the enemy when you quoted Jefferson.
Todd is clearly an abusive character, evidenced by: his frighteningly credible (not the same as justifiable) anger he spews at anyone and anything that challenges his thin self-esteem, his repeated references to fists, knives and guns, his multiptle demeaning allusions to sex (slobbery knob jobs, sloppy kisses) and his constant threats to give back what he gets and then some (chicken before egg? seems to the grown-ups he is getting what he elicits, not the other way around), and his lack of natural ability that would have afforded him better work than the low level employment he currently ignores while spending all day in online tantrums in desperate bids for attention... any kind of attention, even negative attention. The adults here are just ignoring his infantile outbursts, not intimidated by his delusional rants of manly posturing.
Take care.

Posted by: Take Care | March 15, 2007 01:54 PM

Don't let him get to ya Todd

Posted by: swtexas | March 15, 2007 01:59 PM

Keep up the good work. How do we get rid of Cassidy & his ilk?

Posted by: Dwight Doolan | March 15, 2007 02:08 PM

Take Care - You have outstanding remote psychological diagnostic abilities. Almost psychic! I bet you studied medicine under that other great remote diagnostician, former Senator Bill Frist (R). I have this lump I'd like you to look at. Not only do you not know me but, as evidenced by the crap coming out of your keyboard, you are incapable of understanding me. You want to be my editor, pay me. If not, you have a good idea what you can do with your style, grammar and vocabulary criticism. But come on back now, yah hear! You know, maybe I would not use sexual imagery if politicians and lobbyists didn't act like hookers and pimps servicing corporate johns. Have a nice day continuing with personal attacks against ME and HOW I SAY WHAT I SAY instead of WHAT I SAY - which is that lobbying is at a minimum the very embodiment of the corporatism aspect of fascism if not outright open fascism. Prove me wrong, Oh Rachael's Great Protector, but you do not have a CLUE about me. Or much else it would seem. Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous K Street Fascist Supporter, you come back when you have something to say of substance about the nexus of lobbying and fascism. If you just want to bash me personally some more, welcome to an exercise in futility. Divide and conquer works best if the enemy does not see you coming. See ya!

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 02:26 PM

Take Care, you know, what is wrong with this country? People are so busy, busy with kids, busy stuck in traffic, busy trying to pay their mortgages, that they don't have time to find out how badly they are getting screwed. I find it interesting that Patrick and you have decided to go for the one guy who has been pretty consistent in his unforgiving hatred for what lobbyist, with the help of willing elected officials, have done to our Democracy. The reason that the democrats are the majority in the House and Senate is primarily why......? Yes, corruption was top of the list in exit polls(not that I think demorcats are that much different, just not as greedy and smarter). You are not believeable as just regular ole' citizens posting on a blog. I think Cassidy is a sad shell of a person, no soul, no real values, and no real class. Please relay to him my thoughts during your next conversation.

Posted by: Rachael | March 15, 2007 02:35 PM

Have mercy Todd- lobbyists and tough row to hoe..............for a ho.

Posted by: swtexas | March 15, 2007 02:38 PM

oops, lobyists and politicians have........

Posted by: swtexas | March 15, 2007 02:40 PM

Oh, and another thing Take Care. The very idea that Cassidy is quoting Thomas Jefferson makes me almost feel physically ill. If Jefferson could dig his own body out of his grave, he would walk up to Cassidy, slap him in the face with his skeleltal hand and then challenge him to a dual for insulting his honor.

Posted by: Rachael | March 15, 2007 02:42 PM

Hey look at me! Pay attention to me! I'm super intellectual because I can use terms like fascism. I'm not really sure what it means, but it's cool to talk about how bad it is. I know lots of big words. Did you notice how clever and witty I am? It doesn't matter, because even though I spend lots amounts of time commenting here, I don't care what any of you think about me. You are all anonymous fascists. I'm not anonymous because I put my first name in the blank. My name sounds tough and threatening, like me. And if I weren't at my really important and demanding job, I would totally beat you up for disagreeing with me. You fascists are all just jealous that Rachel likes me, but I don't care because tons of girls like me, and my mom says I'm a great catch. So just give up, K Street Fascists. You can't argue with me anyway. I took a comparative government class in 8th grade. You fascists.

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 03:19 PM

OK to chime in again? I'm watching MSNBC -- counting down to COUNTDOWN, Ha! -- and they're doing a story, Tucker is, on Hillary and Obama courting the Jewish vote. Anyone know what's that about? I don't trust Tucker on this.

Posted by: Another Keith Fan | March 15, 2007 03:42 PM

How very sad that such a well done and, in my view, important, piece of journalism should prompt a storm of petty playground back-and-forth rather than thughtful comment and questions on what has become almost a fourth branch of government (fifth if you want to count the press). It seems to me many Americans feel baffled and powerless about their government and the influence it has on their lives. This should be a chance to, for once, get some straight skinny on how one aspect of it works. Then it is up to us to engage in rational thought, thoughtful debate and maybe even some political action.
I do hope this doesn't end up coming under the heading of feeding ice ceam to the pigs!

Posted by: david Jewell-Philadelphia | March 15, 2007 03:51 PM

I don't disagree. So why don't you join the Keith Olberman bandwagon.

Posted by: Dwight | March 15, 2007 04:00 PM

Ya'll be sure and check out just6dollars.org

Posted by: swtexas | March 15, 2007 04:04 PM

That last post was not only not me, but possibly the most juvenile and retarded personal attack yet. 8th Grade Civics, eh? Sounds more like envy or vested interest in maintaining lobbying. Nice going, K- Street Supporters. Are you getting 9th graders to do your dirty work now? Because that is the only way that post makes sense. I have not tried to draw attention to MYSELF once. Not once. I have talked about fascism and the dangers of lobbying and fended off personal attacks for a over a week with nary the slightest bit of self-promotion. It sounds like from my positive feedback that maybe I should but I will say this in small words so you understand: THIS IS NOT ABOUT ME, DIPSTICK. This is not about me, this is about lobbying and their role in our country's descent into fascism. I certainly did not pay the Washington Post to run a 26 chapter PR Love Story (slobbery knob job -- that one is just for you Take Care) in the guise of news. Oh! Look at you, look at you! You support the fascists! Well I am looking and I see an idiot that can't even properly insult but is reduced to simple mockery. Sock puppet. And if you think Todd is an intimidating name, you obviously did not grow up with it or you are such a wuss my cat could take you out. A tough name is something, oh, I don't know, like the name Dick or Carl with a K.

Rachael - You are right about Jefferson. He would throttle Cassidy with his bare hands for daring to utter his words in support of FASCISM. Damn it, there is that pesky word again!

Come on FAKE Todd. Let's hear some more from you because I have another big word for you - FRAUDULENT. Just like your K Street Masters and the fools they foisted upon the American public in the form of the Bush Administration. Now go ask your mom for a sippy cup and some Kool-Aid.

Posted by: The REAL Todd | March 15, 2007 05:38 PM

K-Street and Cassidy? Just so you know, the quality of your mid-week "personal attack" dogs was much higher last week. Please consider staffing changes or better training for your your pets. I have yet to see ONE cogent defense of lobbying. Lots of insults and nonsense, but no defense. Patrick tried but even he has pulled back from his initial tactic. Sad. If this is the quality of employees you have, I am surprised you managed to get an organized, synchronized, graphically consistent, dual site PR web promotion to work at all much less having the skills for working the phones to spread that graft and corruption. I guess being a greedy parasite does not require much intelligence since you feed off the body politic instead of actually producing anything. And when you people criticize me for hating lobbyists? That is a compliment. I harbor a hatred for them that is unbound. I can count the things I truly hate on one hand and all of them are social evils. Guess which finger fascism and its component part corporatism/the current U.S. lobbying system occupy? If you act like an enemy of the Constitution, I will treat you like one. You act like my personal enemy instead of disproving my assertions, well then you have shown which side of the battle line you stand. Have a day, K Street. They are numbered. Either by REAL reform or that mushroom cloud coming soon to a theater of conflict or false flag attack near you if your boys Dick and George get their way. And I do not call them Mr. Vice President or Mr. President BECAUSE I respect the offices. The men are oil fascist war criminals and traitors. Neither are worthy of their office, but you should know that K Street. You helped pay for this mess.

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 06:14 PM

Anti-facist? Who are you kidding Todd. One logical defense of lobbying (this from a non-lobbyist who doesn't even work in politics): often overlooked institutions received funding that enabled them to excel. Read the story about the HIV research at the Emory Univ lab the other week? Where do you think the funding for the lab came from, thin air? Lobbying can be detrimental, but also beneficial. Pretending it's all harmful is pitifully absurd. Your band-wagon philosophy is that because some lobbying had harmful effects, therefore all lobbying is bad. I mean that sort of observational selection can be utilized in any walk of life... car driving has resulted in many deathes therefore car driving is bad. C'mon, are you honestly arguing all forms of lobbying are problematic? The most basic form of lobbying is electioneering... think of the vast number of politicians who got their start from lobbying on one or two local issues. Was that wrong? Where's the line in the sand?

Posted by: Bryan | March 15, 2007 06:26 PM

Bryan, all forms of lobbying are problematic because it fosters rampant corruption. Pay attention. The argument that some good comes out of it still comes back to saying, "Those two guys are shooting at me, but that one guy is shooting at me a little less so maybe I should cut him some slack." Under a system like what I proposed earlier, Emory would still have access to petition. It would just be limited, direct and involve no money changing hands or middlemen skimming off the top to get heard. The fundamental problem is not the right to petition, but rather how it is being abused while essentially removing the Constitutional guarantee of equal representation for ALL, not just corporations.

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 06:41 PM

Sorry my PC has been out of commish (where are those IT guys when you need them anyway).

Ok (not that I am a bastion of good and defender of the trodden up) but here are a few questions.

If done by the rules, where is "money changing hands" in lobbying other than between a lobbyist and a client paying to be represented? Campaign contribution are legal. If you outlaw them and prevent people from rasing money only the filthy rich would be able to afford to run for public office.

If we do away with merit based awards to Universities and Hospitals can we also do away with all the money going to research on smoking cessation programs, Obesity support networks, rural employee training programs, levee rebuilding and urban redevelopment. I for one don't smoke, am relatively fit, college educated and don't own property in a hopless flood zone or inner city. All of these get handouts because enough people get togther who vote for congressmen and ask for it. If a congressman doesn't win funding for things in his district, what is in D.C. for? Won't be in office for long.

If we eliminated all the spending (oh and social security too because that was for the socially destitute, widows and orphans) we would all have more money in our pockets but my guess very little would get done that didn't specifically benefit the person writing the check. (Rats, there's that money thing again) Just look how quickly people pony up money when a new school is needed or someone wants to put in a battered women's shelter. (kill that funding too as I am not a woman or a batterer there of)

Can some one please clearly (wihout ranting or name calling ) explain how a system that is legal a display of Fascism and the practicers there of fascists? Please refrane from using lobbyists practicing outside the system as an example. Remind me again what suggestions we have seen for reform (without calling me stupid or telling me to get stuffed)and tell me what is wrong with some one paying someone else to represent their interest before the goverment. And lastly how would you propose things get done in congress that is fully above board, full disclosures.

One more item I read somewhere that the deadline for claiming an estimated $2.3 BILLION in personal income tax refunds was about to expire from some year in the past. If people are too lazy to claim money due to them, how are we to expect them to get off their couch and be civicly active or just vote.

Seems the ones runnnig the show are the ones cabable of getting a response or at least enough folks to vote for them or agree with (tolerate) what they are doing

My guess is that EVERY member of congress has something tucked away somewhere for their district. What is the harm in being more direct and persistant in asking for it.

Posted by: Alex L aka The Troll | March 15, 2007 07:48 PM

One more question (sorry I thought I heard a billy goat):

Please provide examples of governments past or present that are not influenced by industry or powerful individuals or intersts or that in someway do not enact legislation specifically benefiting domestic industries or niche businesses.

Posted by: Alex L Troll | March 15, 2007 08:23 PM

Today's story took place in 1986, a little more than 20 years ago. $10,000 a month for services. Twenty years later, thanks to inflation, I wonder how much Abramoff charged for his services.

Posted by: Michael | March 15, 2007 08:32 PM

Alex -- I think you are missing the point. Of course the government has to spend money, especially on health and education infrastructures. That is not the issue.
The issue is you need to pay someone like Cassidy, by his own 1986 figures, a quarter of a million to get your petition heard. It is an equal access issue.
In this current system, you don't or can't pay, you are cut out and your right to petition diminished - practically eliminated. I am sure that on the staff of universities and hopefully within the SSA or in health care there is someone capable of drafting proposals without paying a "user fee" to someone like Cassidy to get their Representative or Senator to hear them in the first place as is their Constitutional right.
Combined with the campaign finance and PAC systems which allow corporations to apply money to manipulate legislation by sponsoring only "friendly" candidates and running often purposefully distorted issues campaigns, they do not just impact spending but civil rights and a whole litany of other areas corporations have no business being involved in as a matter of common sense. That is a recipe for disaster for reasons I have already mentioned, but mainly that you cannot have fake people that sociopaths can hide behind determining the legislative course for the country instead of the real people and expect it to work long term.
Lobbying in itself is not and cannot be the totality of fascism (that would be hyperbolic and incorrect by the definition of fascism - it is a component, a support if you will), but it certainly is filling to corporatism role well. And since lobbying is where the graft money wheels hit the legislative process road, that is a good place to start rebuilding. From scratch. My contention is not that lobbying is legal fascism, but that it is certainly corporatism supporting a decline into fascism and unconstitutional in practice. It is part of what let the kind of man into office who would steal our military from the job at hand to make money for his friends and family at the cost of our soldiers lives and global stability.
Nice to see the civil tone and that you have a sense of humor about the troll thing.
No hard feelings, eh?

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 08:48 PM

Alex, I just cannot bring myself to call myself Todd the Billy Goat because I had a friend named Billy Goat in college - and he was quite a guy.

Posted by: Todd | March 15, 2007 08:55 PM

Todd, once again, and I emphasize, again, you have made your point coherent and simple to understand. This isn't rocket science that the system is unfair right now.

David-Jewell, the way to create change is to start by blogging. People do pay attention to these sites. The next step is to get involved. Being a citizen in a Democracy is NOT a spectator sport, you have to be willing to invest time and energy for no reason except to better the country. The other key component is to elect honest people. They do exist, but getting them to run for office is difficult.

Posted by: Rachael | March 15, 2007 09:37 PM

as an educator, I see quite a few kids with all kinds of autistic characteristics. I have believed for a long time that, as Ana Marie Cox wrote in her roman a clef (can't find any symbol keys or underline thingys on this computer), Washington, D.C. is filled with people with Asperger Syndrome - a mild form of Autism where a person can dress him/herself, hold a job, perfom amazing mental feats, but cannot communicate with the rest of the world because he/she is completely fixated on the head of a pin.

I am curious - todd and rachael - do you two hold jobs? why is this particular issue so inflamatory that you must be the first person to post each day?

Posted by: ciciinfla | March 16, 2007 07:47 AM

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