There is an unspoken relationship between congressional leadership and K Street that very few outside of Washington ever understand. There is such an incestual relationship between Congress, Lobbying firms and even the D.C. national media that these relationships are rarely ever discussed. It’s in everyone’s best interest to just shut up about it as every family on the “inside” in D.C. benefits from this system. To expose it in a big way would cause a calamity on all their lives unlike anything seen before in Washington.
How does the system work?
I wanted to share exactly how this system works. I think most people don’t realize that K Street really runs the show in Washington. Most think that their votes are what influences a Congressman or Senator. If you think that, you’ve got a lot to learn. The truth is most cannot afford a congressional salary without some perks coming their way. K Street provides ways for them to increase their net worth while in the House or Senate. It further provides excellent jobs (payoffs, bribes, I would call them) for those that are “team players” when they leave the House or the Senate – even in disgrace.
What happens when a new congressman goes to DC?
He gets visited with by some of the more senior members of congress to see if he is “gong to play ball.” They want to know if the guy is some bozo from the district who got elected with the idea he was going to change the world or if he is a shrewd political type that wants to work the system to make life better for himself and those close to him. The latter is their preferred colleague.
When they see the right kind of new congressman, they put those on the committees that matter. The committees that will actually control money. They keep the idealists on the lesser important committees so that they don’t interfere.
The new congressman starts having those “private talks” about how things work. “You’ve got to go along to get along” is the common phrase used. “Don’t listen to what you’ve heard in the past,” they are told. “Listen to me.”
What the more senior member tells them is they have to keep certain lobbyists happy. The party will not only abandon them as their first term comes to an end if they don’t keep these lobbyists happy, they will go out and find a replacement candidate to run against them and actually fund that candidate. Actually, they rarely will put money out to bring a new candidate in, but they can shut the candidate off from any money in that candidate’s district and then put out the word that anyone wanting to run against this rogue congressman will not have to worry about the party funding the rogue’s campaign. He is cut-off. That invites challengers.
As the new congressman starts doing the right thing in the eyes of leadership, he begins to hear about how a congressman voted out two years ago has a great job on K Street making $500k or more.
The leadership will point out: “Congressman A was like you. He was loyal and did what it took to get things done. He was like you four years ago! And look at him now. If you are ever voted out, know that we and our K Street friends will take care of you. Being loyal to us means that you will not lose out on supporting your family if you lose an election.”
The idea is that leadership wants you to know as a new congressman that you will be asked to do things that piss off your district. They will give you bogus cover votes that allow you to say to your district “hey, I voted against TPP, but I was in the minority.” Once the cover stops working, and you are voted out, they make you feel you will be taken care of. Really, only about 10% of those voted out get the big jobs. They don’t let the new congressman know that. They make him feel special. He feels the closer he gets to them the more likely he is to get that cushy job.
Why do they NEVER want to be kicked off of committees? Same reason. You get close to all the lobbyists in one committee. If you are kicked off that committee, your future earnings on K Street go down dramatically.
Did you realize that active current congressional leadership can get a former congressman or even a former Senator “black listed” from working on K Street? That is well known among ALL Congressmen and Senators. Outside of Capitol Hill, nobody realizes that. If you piss off “leadership,” your value on K Street falls to near zero.
Your Wife, Your Spouse, Your Fiancé, Your Adult Children, Your Mistress:
K Street in meeting with you as you gain power gets to know you. They get to know just who is important to you. If you’re a man and your wife still lives “in the district” (meaning your congressional district) they can help. Is your wife a nurse? She can consult a Washington Think Tank on health care? Is she a lawyer? She can consult on almost any think tank. Is she a small business owner in the district? She can consult at different places as the opportunities come up. Sometimes bigger companies that have facilities back in the home district can arrange for jobs for the spouse that pay far more than her resume would generally allow.
Getting a congressman wealthy through the spouse is important when they see the congressman is going to “pay off” by using his influence over time.
I have always heard how the number one thing no congressman wants to allow anyone to find out about is what happens for his spouse once he is in congress.
The spouse generally does not get any of this until the congressman has proven he can be strongly reelected and is “playing ball.” They don’t do this for first term congressmen as it rarely pays off.
As a congressmen is re-elected several times, his adult children and other relatives are put into interesting positions that pay very well in DC.
Ready to Retire? Or – Are You About to be Voted Out?
You need to arrange that golden parachute. You will never be able to unless you have served K Street well.
For Congressmen and Senators on the way out, K Street pays for SERVICES RENDERED – if the truth be told. Of course, nobody will ever say it that way. They don’t really get hired for the ability to shape future legislation. They get paid well for a few years after they leave congress for how helpful they were while in congress. K Street, by taking care of a congressman AFTER he is out, shows current congressmen that there is a huge benefit for playing the game. So, if a congressman did great things for a lobbyist, he gets brought on as a thank you for services rendered. He is also on display for those that continue to do the bidding in congress of that lobbyist.
When a congressman is finally out, they are not nearly as influential as one might think to members of congress. They are more likely to have their star power used to bring in donations to super pacs that are important to the K Street firms. That is basically all they really do. Their employment or consulting contracts are very much legal. They follow the rules on lobbying. Being that they are really not lobbyists in the same way that lobbyists are, Congress has already carefully written the statutes so that they can make a living from day one when they leave congress. They only truly lobby and become lobbyists if they have real influence on their former colleagues. Most don’t.
The Bottom Line:
It’s a racket. If you could uncover all of the hidden conversations that are spoken in double speak, you might be able to prove it is an organized crime. A RICO system. But, you’ll never be able to prove it.
Here’s what I would suggest to stop it:
- Make spousal income public from day one. (This will never happen. Why do you think most congressmen file separately from their spouses? BINGO!)
- Don’t let former congressmen and senators ever consult or work with political action committees. Never, ever!
- Don’t let former congressmen and senators ever raise funds for political action committees. Again – Never, ever!
- Make former congressmen and senators ineligible to be hired for five years after leaving office into the field over which their former committees in congress watched over. They must report all jobs, including as a “consultant” or “independent contractor,” publicly so that any past relationship can be scrutinized if that relationship came via lobbyists in congress.
- Make former congressmen and senators report ALL of their income sources and amounts publicly for five years after leaving congress.
- We have to make a payoff for “services rendered” impossible to pull off. Then and only then will you shut down K Street fraud.