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                                       politics + culture

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Citizen K Street: Gerald Cassidy and the earmark

Last year lobbyists in Washington collected fees in excess of more than 3 Billion Dollars...

So begins Washington Post editor Robert Kaiser's introduction to the series Citizen K Street, a portrait of the life of lobbyist Gerald Cassidy, and in turn, the story of the rise of the lobbying industry in Washington.

The series describes in detail how Cassidy's firm, Schlossberg-Cassidy, virtually invented the modern earmark process and, as a result, the current multi-billion dollar lobbying industry.

Earmarks are no small matter; as the Sunlight Foundation link above indicates:

An earmark is a line-item that is inserted into a bill to direct funds to a specific project or recipient without any public hearing or review. Members of Congress—both in the House and the Senate—use earmarks to direct funds to projects of their choice. Typically earmarks fund projects in the district of the House member or the state of the Senator who inserted it; the beneficiary of the funds can be a state or local agency or a private entity; often, the ultimate beneficiary is a political supporter of the legislator. Earmarks are the principal means by which Members of Congress “bring home the bacon.”

Earmark reform is one of the issues before the 110th Congress. You can pay a part in the process by visiting the Sunlight Foundation's Exposing Earmarks page.



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