And It’s Only Been a Month. . .


December 9, 2010 by billie789

This in from Think Progress this morning:
“Perhaps to the surprise of many Tea Party populists who helped elect them, the Washington Post reports, ‘Many incoming GOP lawmakers have hired registered lobbyists as senior aides. Several of the candidates won with strong support from the anti-establishment tea party movement.’

These lobbyists are not public servants. They are experts at carving out special deals and tax giveaways to powerful corporations:

– Rep.-elect Marlin Stutzman (R-IN) selected lobbyist Tim Harris as his chief of staff. Harris works as lobbyist for a trade association representing the shareholders of energy companies like American Electric Power, Duke Energy, NiSource, Vectren.

– Rep.-elect Mike Pompeo (R-KS) selected Mark Chenowerth as his chief of staff. Chenowerth previously worked as a lawyer on the lobbying team for Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by Charles and David Koch. As ThinkProgress reported early this year, Pompeo was groomed for office by Koch Industries-run front groups, and has served as an executive for Koch Industries oil company subsidiaries.

– Rep.-elect Robert Dold (R-IL) selected corporate lobbyist Eric Burgeson as his chief of staff. Burgeson works for the lobbying firm BGR Holdings serving business clients in China, the coal industry, and a nuclear company.

– Rep.-elect Chip Cravaack (R-MN) selected corporate lobbyist Rod Grams as his chief of staff. Grams works for a lobbying firm called Hecht, Spencer, and Associates where he represents 3M, Norfolk Southern and the Financial Services Roundtable, the trade association for the country’s largest banks.

– Rep.-elect Krisi Noem (R-SD) selected Jordon Stoick as her chief of staff. Stoick is a vice president at the lobbying firm Direct Impact. Direct Impact also specializes in building public support for corporate causes, boasting on its website that it once generated hundreds of letters to the FCC on behalf of the telecom industry.

– Rep.-elect Jeff Denham (R-CA) selected corporate lobbyist Jason Larrabee as his chief of staff. Larrabee is the founder of his own lobbying firm.

– Sen.-elect Pat Toomey (R-PA) selected former corporate lobbyist Chris Gahan as his chief of staff. Gaham previously worked at the lobbying firm Latham and Watkins.

– Rep.-elect Steve Pearce (R-AZ) selected Todd Willens as his chief of staff. Willens is a lobbyist at Vitello Consulting, a firm that represents a number of interests, including a casino.

– Sen.-elect Charlie Bass (R-NH) selected lobbyist John Billings as his chief of staff. Billings is a lobbyist for a food marketing and whole sale trade association.

– Rep.-elect Chris Gibson (R-NY) selected Steve Stallmer as his chief of staff. Stallmer is a lobbyist for the Associated General Contractors of New York State.

– Sen.-elect Ron Johnson (R-WI) selected Don Kent as his chief of staff. Kent is a lobbyist for the firm Navigators Global. Navigators Global represents AT&T, CitiGroup, and other major corporations.

– Sen.-elect Mike Lee (R-UT) selected lobbyist Spencer Strokes as his chief of staff. Lee is one of the most prominent corporate lobbyists in Utah, representing clients from the private prison industry to the nuclear industry.

– Sen.-elect Rand Paul (R-KY) selected anti-union lobbyist Douglas Stafford for his chief of staff. Stafford is the vice president of the National Right to Work Committee.

These Republican lawmakers, many of whom cast themselves as insurgents, are linking their professional decisions into the corporate establishment of influence peddling. Congressional chiefs of staff are often in charge of helping members make pivotal decisions, like which positions to take on public debates, how to vote on pieces of legislation, and of course, how to use your votes to raise money for your re-election.

As the Washington Post reported last weekend, freshmen “Tea Party” Republicans have already ingratiated themselves into the cocktail culture of K Street. Dozens of freshmen Republicans have crowded into near-daily fundraisers, parties, and high-priced dinners hosted by corporate lobbyists. Already undercutting a promise to wean themselves off earmark giveaways to corporate interests, the new Republican Chairman of the Appropriations Committee is leaning towards hiring a defense industry lobbyist as the committee chief of staff.”

So much for grassroots, populist movements.

9 thoughts on “And It’s Only Been a Month. . .

  1. Stu says:

    I think Republican Congressmen are hiring lobbyists as Chiefs of Staff simply as a symbolic showing of support for our President, who appointed Tom Donilon National Security Advisor.

    Tom Donilon was a registered lobbyist from 1995-2005, and his sole client was Fanny Mae. He also served as a consultant to Goldman Sachs and Citigroup.

    Tom Donilon is replacing a highly decorated retired Marine General who served as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and Commander of the United States European Command.

    If a lobbyist can replace a Marine General as National Security Advisor, I guess a lobbyist can handle being a Congressman’s Chief of Staff. I’d be willing to wager there’s even a few lobbyist Chiefs of Staff on the other side of the aisle too :-)

  2. Bill says:

    Uh. . .you only neglected to mention that Donilon has been Jones’ Chief Deputy at NSA for a number of years now and Defense Sec’y Gates endorsed the move, as well.

    While I honor your partisan shot, to me, it’s like saying minnows and whales are both fish because they both swim in water.

  3. Bill says:

    Hmmm. And here I sit with a degree in Journalism from the U of U. and never heard that one in class.

    I think they teach truck dispatchers that when their trucks are late making a delivery.

    • Stu says:


      I’ve got a friend who got his Poli Si degree but became rather disenchanted with it all and went back and got his journalism degree at Western Washington University. He’s the editor of a daily newspaper here now. But anyway he’s the one who told me it was a common mantra with his profs, and intimated it was pretty much a core value of reporters.

  4. Stu says:

    Funny, I didn’t even Google it first – but now that I have, I see the word “Mantra” is used more than once in these search results:

  5. Bill says:

    Well, when I was in school, there were still real pad-and-pencil reporter/journalists out there. I was trained in print journalism and two professors I had were old-school newspaper reporters who had newsprint ink in their blood. It was an honofrable profession and you were not allowed to exagerate, hyper-inflate or try to become part of the story in any way whatsoever. Now, if you asked them about the state of “broadcast journalism,” that was a different story. They thought broadcast journalists were whores, useless showbiz Barbie and Kens. It’s only gotten worse with 24/7 cable news and partisan radio broadcasts, where opinion is parading as Truth.

    • Stu says:

      Probably just a difference in schools, philosophies and curriculum. He was a print guy too, and went to Western in the early 70’s…he’s got to be pushing 60 now. But Western was/is a rather liberal school, and Bellingham was known as a party town back then. Probably no Huntley-Brinkley types on the staff at that school. Must have been cool to have those old-school profs!

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December 2010

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