|Tom DeLay- Corporate Whore|
Published: March 4, 2004
TIMES NEWS TRACKER
The quest by the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, for greater Republican clout in the lucrative world of lobbying is bearing an embarrassment of riches. Two Washington lobbyists with close ties to Mr. DeLay have harvested a cool $45 million across three years by selling lobbying and public affairs services to four Indian tribes flush with casino profits. This is such an eye-popping profit that Senator John McCain is planning hearings on what he calls "disgraceful" suggestions of profiteering. Actually, the tribal contracts, reported by The Washington Post, exemplify the way the Capitol works. One of the enriched lobbyists had been a ranking staff assistant to Mr. DeLay, the other a close political ally.
Mr. DeLay declared last week that "if anybody is trading on my name to get clients or to make money, that is wrong and they should stop it immediately." But his attempt to disown the lobbyists seemed a bit strained in light of his long campaign to make Republican lobbyists more dominant. "If you want to play in our revolution, you have to play by our rules," he once famously declared.
In another part of town, Mr. DeLay's fellow Texan and predecessor as Republican majority leader, Dick Armey, works as head of Citizens for a Sound Economy, a conservative antitax group that warns of "slick, well-funded special interest lobbyists that constantly roam the halls of Congressional office buildings." Mr. Armey is also a private-sector lobbyist at a major firm, specializing in opportunities in the growing Capitol Hill market of homeland security.
Across Washington, the amount companies report spending on lobbying has been rising steadily, to more than $160 million a month, according to Political Money Line, a watchdog group. It is clearly past time for a serious investigation of this industry. Senator McCain couldn't have picked a more worthy target.
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