Ask a Lobbyist: Still Stiff
We interrupt Mark Foley's Cocktober Surprise (or PageFuckerGate or whatever the hell we're calling it) to bring you this only slightly Foley-related item. It's our weekly advice column, in which a real live Anonymous Lobbyist answers questions all about how she's destroying our country from readers just like you, but more shrill. Send your questions here, and chances pretty good that she'll get to it.
This week: L'affaire Foley, Hill Staffers, and lobbyists don't give a shit who you donate to.
So, how come Foley has such a business-friendly voting record if lobbyists aren't his speed?
His crippling closet case and his desire to keep his profile low so that nobody goes to the press (oops, too late). If every Republican Congress Member from a conservative district started voting in favor of higher business taxes and then things like gay marriage, people might start to notice and ask a couple of questions. As it was, the man had to drop out of his Senate race because of the rumors that he was gay**. So if he's a reliable Republican vote and more or less keeps his head down except to speak about issues like Internet predators about which most people but him agree, then nobody's going to look too deeply when he sends a couple of awkward emails or makes weepy speeches about pages on the floor of the House.
** With many apologies to the gay community for re-printing this vicious rumor. No self-respecting gay man would bother squealing about 7 and a half inches. I wouldn't bother squealing about 7 and a half inches. But I don't diddle the underage boys. I'm sure that looks HUGE compared to a 13 year old.
On his site, [random politician] claims that there's nothing that would irritate a lobbyist more than someone contributing to his campaign. Does the thought of people giving [this random politician] money make you lose sleep?
Well, being as I'd never heard of this random politician, no, I didn't lose any sleep over your donation to him. I did have to look up the incumbent he's challenging, just out of morbid curiosity to see which Republican it was. Amusingly enough, this random politician is a Republican challenging a Democrat incumbent. Obviously, he got his talking points from the RNC mixed up with those from the DNC.
Many business lobbyists might actually prefer to see him win, given the whole theory that Republicans are more friendly to business interests. Liberal issues lobbyists, on the other hand, probably do lose sleep over your donations to him.
Even if this guy somehow wins, which seems unlikely, he'll just assail me (and everyone else) for PAC donations like the rest of his brethren when he gets here. My only issue is that the money he manages to sock away now from non-lobbyists is just money I'm going to get hit up for from the incumbent - and I doubt that his professional fundraisers haven't hit the D.C. money circuit trying to vacuum up some of their own from us.
How do Lobbyists feel about Congressional Staffers?
Congressional staffers are generally the ones that do much of the actual work on Capitol Hill and with whom most lobbyists interact on a daily basis. They're why any of the rest of us have a chance to be lobbyists under 40, as we generally relate to Congressional staff (most of whom are under 30) better than our 50 year old egotistical bosses do.
That said, one of the reason my 50 year old egotistical boss doesn't mix well with hill staffers is they're generally pretty high on power most of the time -- they're 25 and creating laws the rest of us have to follow, which I'm sure is a heady experience. They're overeducated and underpaid and get kowtowed to by lobbyists on an hourly basis. They get asked to dinners and lunches at places they couldn't otherwise afford to go, get multiple offers for free tickets to events and get told that they're all so smart and important. As it would for anyone, it often goes to their heads. And that's when they start drinking at
work, making fun of constituents, flouting the gift limits (or asking us to flout the gift limits) and generally looking for a new job as a lobbyist. Some of them are my best friends.
Plus, they hear that lobbyists (ha!) make hundreds of thousands of dollars to shill for business interests. I know a ton of staffers my age who tell me they won't leave their $40-50,000/year jobs for anything less than $150,000, while I'm not even making 6 figures yet. Committee staff shop themselves around town for more than that, even. I've often been in an interview after some really bright Hill staffer, and when the interviewer brings up salary, it's often in the context of the Hill staffer having asked for more than the boss' salary. So they continue to have the collective reputation of being egotistical and self-important -- which is maybe why so many want to run for office themselves, I guess.