Created 04/13/2009 - 9:38am
The Reward Method of corruption is pretty straightforward: As opposed to the Payoff Method whereby a campaign contribution is made and then a favor is legislated, the Reward Method gives a politician a goodie after a favor is done, sorta like a dog being given a treat for rolling over.
Very often, Fazio said, lawmakers don't deal much with lobbyists and interest groups from outside their districts or states. Members tend to see K Street as a fundraising destination instead of an educational opportunity.
If members are interested in someday making the trip across town, Fazio suggested they work more closely with Washington's influence class.
"If you want to be respected in the world of Washington outside the Capitol, you need to make yourself open to that, and you learn a lot," said Fazio, who moved in 2005 to the lobbying law firm Akin Gump.
Becoming a professional lobbyist can be a six- or seven-figure career, and because there's no longer any shame in a lawmaker or staffer selling off their public experience to the highest corporate bidder, a whole new incentive structure has developed: The one whereby lawmakers and staffers do legislative favors with an eye towards future K Street employment.
Of course, public financing of elections should weaken the power of lobbyists in general (lobbyists, after all, derive a lot of their power from how much money they can direct to a legislator). But again, there's no real way to totally eliminate this incentive structure. Even a multiyear ban on direct lobbying after government service doesn't really end the influence a former legislator or staffer can peddle.
It's a vexing problem - and I'm curious if folks have any ideas as to what kinds of policies or tools could be employed to address it. Because make no mistake about it - the hope for future riches definitely impacts present-day legislating.
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