Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Rethugs Corruption Machine and K Street

K Street Corruption

January 17, 2006

In 1994, as the right wing fought to gain control of the House of Representatives, Americans were introduced to the “Contract with America.” The contract was an attempt to bring to an end the “cycle of scandal and disgrace” in government. The Abramoff scandal and the various other right-wing ethics problems have proven to the American public that the contract has been broken. Another product that attempted to harness the power of the conservative 1994 election victory became known as the “K Street Project.” Conceptualized as a tool for the right-wing preservation of power, the “K Street Strategy,” as it became known, created the culture in which Jack Abramoff’s criminal activity was encouraged and rewarded.

  • The K Street Project institutionalized the systematic abuse of power. As the details are revealed, the conservative leadership will argue that the K Street Project was a result of numerous electoral victories. This is false. It was a concerted effort and its creation and pay-to-play rules came from the top of the conservative leadership, including Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Grover Norquist and many others.

  • The K Street Project proves that the Abramoff scandal is not an isolated incident. Conservatives worked hard to ensure that they maintained a lock on power in Washington via the K Street Project. To gain influence over legislation, trade associations and corporate lobbyists were ordered to do three things: refuse to hire Democrats, hire only deserving Republicans as identified by the congressional leadership, and contribute heavily to Republican coffers. Despite being admonished by the House Ethics Committee numerous times for his conduct, Tom DeLay’s pay-to-play machine continued to plow full-speed ahead.

  • Real reform is needed to end the culture of cronyism and corruption in Washington. Progressive lawmakers are putting forth real solutions to corruption problems plaguing Capitol Hill. At the end of last year, Congressmen David Obey (D-WI), Barney Frank (D-MA), David Price (D-NC) and Tom Allen (D-ME) introduced a reform plan that would, among other things, limit the influence of lobbyists, increase fiscal responsibility, curb abuses of power and end the two-day work week. Other progressive leaders also are working on plans to restore integrity to Congress.

Daily Talking Points is a product of the American Progress Action Fund.


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