"It's going to be very important to us to bring to Congress certain areas where they made a mistake," Tom Susman, a lawyer at Ropes & Gray, told attendees at an American League of Lobbyists meeting last week on interpreting the rules. "There is some stupid stuff, some silly stuff, and I think it ought to be clarified."
Lobbying league members were furious that members did not allow them much input into the rules, or how to comply. "They passed this because they thought it was good for the Republic," said one. "But they'll still call and say 'Hey buddy, can you spare a dime?' "
Cleta Mitchell, a lawyer with Foley & Lardner, was more blunt. "You remember 'Lysistrata?' " she asked, a Greek play about women who get their men to stop warring by denying them sex. "We know how to end this war. . . . You could just not put out" campaign money.
The legislation slated to take effect this summer makes golf dates, beach picnics and ball games with lobbyists the new risky behavior. With lobbyist-paid dining to be all but banned, gone is the pizza sent by lobbyists to treat Hill staffers working late on appropriations bills. Savvy House staffers now know that the popular rooftop party spot over Charlie Palmer's restaurant is fully visible from the window of offices of the House ethics committee -- whose members can act on what they see.
If anything better describes the problem our nation has with special interests than the preceding paragraphs, I would love to see it.