Ken Connor

Let the American people take note: the wooing has begun. The victors of the 2010 midterm elections haven't even been sworn into office and already they are being initiated into the ways of Washington – a world where money buys influence and careerism trumps constituent service. Scripture tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil, and that the borrower is slave to the lender. Both are maxims that the lobbyists on K Street know well – maxims that they rely upon to ensure that the interests they represent are advanced on Capitol Hill.

The seduction of this year's congressional freshman class looks innocuous enough to the inexperienced eye. Success in politics, after all, is all about planning-ahead strategically. And having gone into considerable debt to finance their campaigns, many of our newly-elected representatives are eager to shed themselves of anything that might impede their ability to wage effective reelection bids in 2012. This is where the infamous "moneyed special interests" come in. They are only too happy to finance the debt liberation of these new representatives in exchange for a seat at the policy-making table. From the Washington Post:

"Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, said debt-retirement events and other post-election fundraisers 'are God's gift to special interests,' allowing corporate PACs and lobbyists to curry favor with grateful lawmakers. It also allows some donors to pitch in with a candidate whom they previously had ignored or opposed, she said. 'If you were on the wrong side or just AWOL during the election, this is your chance to make it up,' McGehee said. 'It's a great way to get in good with members of Congress.'"

The irony, of course, is that so many successful campaigns this election season were based upon an anti-incumbent, anti-Washington, anti-special interest message. Much in the way that Barack Obama rode to office on the promise of "change," many of the nation's aspiring congressional candidates won office with promises that a vote for them would translate into a vote for changing the way Congress does business on Capitol Hill. The push for a moratorium on earmarks was reflective of this spirit: It was time to set aside pork-barrel politics and take care of business for ordinary Americans?many of whom have been badly hurt by the current economic crisis.


Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.