Missouri's freshman senator Claire McCaskill has taken a strong stance against "placeholders," according to an article in today's Washington Post.
Placeholders are people who stand in line through the night, camping out to get seats at Congressional hearings. Only those are not the people who end up sitting in the hearing rooms. They are simply holding a place for lobbyists who want to be fresh in the morning for the hearings.
Sen. McCaskill says lobbyists should not have an advantage that is not available to the general public:
"I was walking along the hallway to the Judiciary Committee" about two months ago, "and I said what's up with these people? . . . Who's paying them?"
If the lobbyists want good seats, she says, let them line up and wait themselves. Public hearings are not concerts at Verizon Center, and everyone should have the same chance of getting a front-row seat. These are public hearings, after all, even if the public doesn't tend to come to these things much, hearings being kind of boring.
"This is the people's government, and these should be the people's hearings," McCaskill says, holding forth in the hallway while reporters crowd around. Some of the line-standers are sleeping. "I have no problem with lobbyists being in hearings, but they shouldn't be able to buy a seat."