Special interests who are willing to pay $25,000 will be able to get their hearing before GOP House members at a retreat:
“Of course it’s about access and building relationships — that’s what this town is all about,” said one lawmaker who has attended the retreats for years. He said lobbyists who travel to the retreats often stay on for after-hours socializing throughout the weekend.
“It’s not like they’re sitting there plugging their corporate issues — but as with anything, their clients’ interests inevitably come up.”
No one attending the conference — lawmakers or lobbyists — are breaking any House rules. While lawmakers cannot take trips that last more than two days with an entity that employs lobbyists, the rules say nothing about travel put together by a nonprofit organization with lobbyists as board members.
The steps taken by Congress recently to reform lobbying laws were more symbolic than anything else (and the symbolism wasn't that great either).