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Democrats Revive the K Street Project

So Much for Ethics Reform

One of the Democrats’ signature promises when they campaigned for control of Congress in 2006 was to end the ‘K Street Project.’ That was the term for the pressure put on lobbyists after the 1994 elections to hire more Republicans. As Kimberly Strassel points out, the K Street Project is back, and it’s gone from red to blue:

Democrats have of course had to be more subtle. Not the least because they were required to follow through on all their righteous indignation with ethics legislation making it criminal for members to influence hiring decisions for partisan political gain. But who needs to keep official “dossiers” on lobbyists? It’s enough to warn that any business that doesn’t realign itself will pay a price.The corporate world got an early taste of this last year, when New York Sen. Chuck Schumer used his majority status to take advantage of his home-state financial industry. It works like this: Mr. Schumer steps up to protect hedge funds and private equity from his own party’s threats of taxation. In return, a grateful industry writes enormous campaign checks that Mr. Schumer, as head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is now using to increase his party’s majority. Somewhere, Mr. DeLay is whistling in appreciation.

The irony is that one reason businesses hire Republicans is that they tend to agree with Republican policies. Democrats are pressuring K Street not only to hire more Republicans, but to re-order their legislative priorities and push Democratic measures that they often disagree with. In this sense, the bullying of people like Schumer and Menendez is worse than what Republicans did, since it puts pressure on firms to go against their own best interests.

Word is that Speaker Pelosi is considering a new platform on which Democrats can run this year. Maybe she can promise to end the K Street Project, again.

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