Monday, December 10, 2007

The Death of the K Street Project?

The Hill has an interesting bit of lobbying news: Trent Lott, the former Republican senator, appears to be joining forces with former Democrat Sen. John Breaux to create a new and powerful lobbying firm in Washington.

Sen. Lott recently indicated a partnership is likely: “John Breaux and I have been friends for 38 or 40 years. We were both staff members in the ’60s. In the ’70s and ’80s, we lived across the street from each other. Our children played together. They were at each other’s weddings.

“A bipartisan firm would be fun,” Lott said.

Not only would it be fun, but it might also represent a final knife in the back of the K Street Project. When two politicos as powerful as Lott and Breaux form a bipartisan lobbying firm, it's going to be difficult to tell other firms that they have to toe a party line.

Which is a good thing. While there are plenty of problems with the role of lobbyists in our politics -- namely, they allow the interests of the few-but-highly-interested to trump the interests of the many-but-unaware -- it's better to have lobbying firms that are independent and bipartisan than to turn them into wholly-owned, money-making subsidiaries of the two main political parties. Otherwise you're never sure whose interests the firm is actually representing, a potential conflict of interest that would undermine whatever public trust the system still has.

The K Street Project was a bad idea. If Lott and Breaux become one reason that it dies and never returns, more power to them.

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