Andre Francisco from POGO has recently written the following blog post concerning the latest case of revolving door. A former lobbyist for Lockheed Martin moved to politics as a staffer with the Senate Armed Services Committee, influencing big decisions on military contractors.
John Bonsell spent five years as a lobbyist for major military contractors including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and SAIC. His new position puts him in a powerful place in a committee that oversees the defense industry and has considerable power to decide where defense funds are directed.
Before Bonsell, former Lockheed executive and lobbyist Ann Sauer held this very same position. Sauer worked for Lockheed for more than 10 years and was paid well for her work.
Jared Pincin and Brian Brenberg write a column in USA Today about cronyism in the US foreign aid program:
Cronies never miss an opportunity to feast on taxpayer dollars — even if it means taking from those who are most vulnerable.
The United States is the largest donor of international humanitarian aid, contributing roughly $8 billion in emergency food aid over the past five years. But a significant portion of that food aid is “tied,” which means the food must be sourced from U.S. suppliers and transported on U.S. ships, even if cheaper alternatives exist. The benefits of tying go to politically-connected companies in the U.S. at the expense of aid recipients. It’s a prime example of cronyism at work.
Grant Bosse at the New Hampshire Watchdog writes about corporate welfare in his state:
When the New Hampshire Senate voted last week to tighten its control over the franchise agreements car makers sign with local car dealers, it also expanded the law to cover farm equipment dealers. The people who make farm equipment did the only logical thing they could in the face of growing government meddling in their business. They hired a lobbyist.
Timothy P. Carney at the Washington Examiner writes about the lobbying agenda of big chain restaurants, highlighting the fact that lobbying itself isn’t bad depending on the issue:
Most subsidies have concentrated benefits and diffuse costs. You and I each pay more for food, maybe for gas, thanks to the ethanol mandate. But saving the ethanol mandate is far more valuable to the ethanol lobby than killing it is to you and me.
But that’s where McDonald’s comes in. Mickey D’s pays tens of millions a year in higher food prices thanks to the ethanol mandate. Get all those chain restaurants together and they pay a ton every year — $3.2 billion, NCCF claims. Bam. You’ve got a concentrated loser of the mandate who can counterbalance the concentrated winner.
Ezra Klein at the Washington Post writes about the staffers of a prominent politician, and how his position of authority has lead to his staffers becoming lobbyists:
…the point of hiring Baucus’s former aides isn’t that they can seamlessly insert any language they want into the final legislation. It’s that they have a direct line to Baucus, and to the people around Baucus, and that gives them a huge advantage. The fact is that human beings are more likely to find arguments convincing when they’re coming from friends rather than strangers or enemies.
That’s the key to most of the lobbying in Washington. It’s not about leveraging bribes so much as it’s about leveraging relationships — and that makes it harder to stamp out.
Lachlan Markay from The Washington Free Beacon recently reported about the latest case of illicit lobbying. Several local health departments illegally used stimulus grant funds to lobby for higher taxes on tobacco and ‘unhealthy products.’ Federal law prohibits the use of grants for these lobbying activities.
The stimulus-funded Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) program disbursed about $373 million intended to educate the public about tobacco use and obesity. Federal law prohibits grantees from using the funds for lobbying activities.
According to the group Cause of Action, local health departments from Alabama to California used the funds to devise or promote legislation designed to curb tobacco use or combat obesity. The report detailing the allegations is the product of a 19-month investigation into the CPPW program.
Nick Sorrentino at Against Crony Capitalism writes about a case of the all-too-common revolving door in DC.
Holder’s right hand man, Breuer basically said that though lots of nasty things happened during the crash of 2008 and prior, nothing (for the most part) was illegal. Or, if it was illegal that prosecution was potentially too damaging to financial markets.
Now he’s cashing in, big time, defending the banks he was once charged with pursuing for the American people.
Veronique de Rugy writes at National Review Online about some of the cuts in the sequester, and how – in this case – the cronyism in the defense sector didn’t win:
While defense spending is a very legitimate role of government, defense cronyism is something worth fighting against every step of the way. Sequestration, in all its imperfections, is a welcome signal that lobbyists do not always win.
In one of the juicier stories to come across the Crony Chronicles desk, there appears to be a very interesting subplot to the largest public works project in Oregon’s history taking place. The lead lobbyist for the project worked for the governor….and a private company that wanted it built:
On Feb. 11, Gov. John Kitzhaber strode into a legislative hearing and made his strongest pitch yet for the massive highway project called the Columbia River Crossing.
Julie Creswell, a reporter for The New York Times, discusses the immense profits that digital health data companies will begin to collect. Unfortunately for us, it’s despite often mediocre results and the ever-expanding government:
It was a tantalizing pitch: come get a piece of a $19 billion government “giveaway.”