New York Times investigative reporter Eric Lipton joins us today to talk about lobbying and how corporations have found new ways to influence congress and public opinion. In the interview he explains how lobbying groups have changed:
If you look at the over all number of lobbyists who were former government officials, it’s increased tremendously over the last 15 or so years. Almost half of all lobbyists today are former government officials. It used to be a much smaller percentage…
In the last three or four years the amount of money spent on registered lobbyists and the number of lobbyists has declined, and that’s in part because there’s been such division in congress that congress is getting very little done and so the corporations aren’t spending a lot of money to try to influence congress. What it has meant recently is that it’s a much smaller circle. The former staffers and the lawmakers and the current staffers, they socialize together, they golf together, they go to each other’s weddings… it creates a very clubby atmosphere in which the people who are in it have advantages that the people outside of it don’t. It makes special interest [able] to influence the process in ways that people who don’t have those kinds of connections wish they could.
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