Opinion| Politics

Column: 'Lobbyist' now a dirty word in Washington



"On Capitol Hill, there is talk of lawmakers evoking ever-more-stringent ethical standards when it comes to lobbying, and some recent suggestions border on the extreme.

Proposed 'reforms' are so absurd that lawmakers may as well suggest that anyone registered under the Federal Lobbying Disclosure Act wear a scarlet 'L' on his or her chest so members easily can spot lobbyists and cross the street to avoid interaction with them. Or better yet, maybe the proposed rules should require we wear bad rain jackets and garish fedoras to identify us with Abramoff. While these, of course, are absurd examples, they fit within the Congress's current mindset as it rakes a profession over the coals. As one of my colleagues observed, it seems like a race to the bottom of sensibility.

Legislators are so focused on passing lobbying reform and demonizing an entire industry -- all due to one person and his intolerable and illegal practices -- that they are missing a critical point. The old system, rules and laws that since have been called broken and ineffectual, worked: Abramoff was caught, arrested and appropriately processed through the judicial system.

What is truly unfortunate is that Congress and the media are attempting to paint the whole lobbying profession with the same broad brush by which a corrupt individual could be drawn. If the same tactic were used on members, would each one be equated to Duke Cunningham or James Traficant? It's a grossly simplistic analogy -- that's the danger of attacking an entire profession because of a couple bad apples."

Get the Story:
Dave Wenhold: K Street Insider: The 'L' word (The Hill 2/21)

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