The 9 Most Loathsome Lobbyists in Washington
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According to a 2006 USA Today profile, Berman’s firm pulls in an annual $10 million, but “only Berman and his bookkeeper wife” know how much of that goes directly into their pockets.
America got a good look at Berman’s latest disingenuously named effort, the Center for Union Facts, when it debuted an ad called “Employee Rights Act: Repair Shop” during the Super Bowl, one in a series about the legislation. “I’m sick of the union taking so much money out of every paycheck,” laments an actor. The shop boys go on to complain that they never even voted for the union.
The key “union fact” conveniently omitted, of course, is that without those unions they’d be working the weekend for slave wages and getting carpal tunnel syndrome. But the only fact that Berman really cares about is the fact that he gets paid.
6) Tony Podesta
Inflate former Clinton chief of staff and current Center for American Progress head honcho with—more?—hot air and—definitely more!—lard, and you get his bloated brother Tony.
While John’s kept the revolving door spinning, Tony’s held the fort at the Podesta Group, the lobbying firm they founded in the late ’80s.
And with John having been a member of Obama’s transition team, and manning the helm of arguably the most influential think tank on a President since the Heritage Foundation replaced Reagan’s brain with an Atari console, Tony’s been a formidable player on K Street during this Administration. He even purchased the insipid Shepard Fairey “Hope” print to demonstrate allegiance.
The Podesta Group’s client list reads like a who’s who of awfulness—Bank of America, Mubarak’s Egypt, British Petroleum, and nearly every other military and for-profit health care conglomerate known to man (and let’s not forget the bailed-out likes of General Motors). The firm’s yearly income jumped from a relatively meager $10 million in ’07 to nearly $30 million under Obama.
A frequent White House and Capitol Hill visitor, Tony is the kind of brazen corporate mouthpiece who can say things like “everyone has a lobbyist” and somehow manage not to vomit all over himself.
5) Haley Barbour
When not hanging out with white supremacists, being governor to the poorest state of the union, or pardoning scores of murderers for no apparent reason, Barbour has been primarily a tobacco industry lobbyist (in 2001, Barbour Griffith & Rogers LLC was paid over $17,000 a month, plus expenses, by RJ Reynolds alone). In downplaying the massive BP oil spill, by claiming the environmental disaster proves that the free market (somehow) works, he was simply doing what comes natural: trying to convince people that obvious poison is not toxic, and victims should have no right to sue.
His deep tobacco ties also explain why he enacted among the strictest tort reform measures in the nation, refused to raise taxes on cigarettes, and tried to kill his state’s youth-smoking-prevention program.
Before his second term even ended, Barbour joined Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC—probably for his legendary fundraising prowess (proven while head of the Republican Governors Association), and less for his striking resemblance to both Joe Camel and a butter sculpture of William Shatner.
4) Michael Toscano
As one of the top lobbyists for the drone trade group Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), Toscano has played a pernicious, if obscure, role in shaping federal legislation as obscure as it is pernicious.
The organization’s lobbying budget more than doubled last year, reaching $280,000, and it helped create the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, piloted by Representatives Buck McKeon, Republican of California, and Henry Cuellar, Democrat of Texas.