<\body> Stories in America: Lobby Watch

Friday, January 06, 2006

Lobby Watch

The "liberal media" is failing to report that under the Bush administration, the number of registered lobbyists in Washington has more than doubled to more than 34,750 and their starting salaries have risen to about $300,000 a year. The amount that lobbyists charge their new clients has increased by as much as 100 percent.

Check out LobbyWatch, The Center for Public Integrity's extensive lobbyist database:
Throughout the past decade, the Center for Public Integrity has scrutinized and monitored the lobbying industry. The Center's LobbyWatch project provides access to data from 2.2 million public documents and details who the lobbyists and lobbying firms are, how much they spend and on whom.

For example, the Center found that Abramoff was one of 52 registered lobbyists who were major fundraisers for George W. Bush's presidential campaigns. Abramoff raised at least $100,000 for Bush's 2004 campaign and lobbied on issues brought before the White House for 19 clients.

In addition, federally registered lobbyists have served as the treasurers of at least 868 political committees since 1998. These committees have spent more than $525 million to influence the political process.

Abramoff is only one--albeit one of the most high profile--of the many well-connected operatives who have sought to reshape the political landscape through money and access. The Center for Public Integrity's LobbyWatch, an ongoing series of stories and a frequently updated database, reveals that the lobbying industry has grown more pervasive and influential on all political levels, over time becoming a "fourth branch of government."

Prosecutors' ability to require that Abramoff provide evidence about his transactions with members of Congress, congressional staffers and executive branch officials marks a turning point in this paradigm. Abramoff's plea gives credence to calls for greater transparency throughout the lobbying industry and will serve as a catalyst for increased scrutiny of K-Street activities.


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