THE BLOG
10/23/2006 10:40 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Nancy Pelosi, Stop Drinking At The K Street Trough

There's a big elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about--and I'm not talking about the Republican Party. It's the gusher of money flowing to Democrats from K Street lobbyists. And it is worrisome that so few progressives want to talk about this openly.

Sure, I'm all for booting the Republicans out of the House and Senate. But, I find it ironic, to say the least, that the polls show that the majority of the people believe that the political system is broken (according to a new CNN poll) and the polls also show the Democrats on the verge of taking over the House yet the Democrats are lining up and feeding at the lobbyist trough even more eagerly than before.

I've pointed out recently how Democrats are cozying up to business. Now, The Hotline reported just last week an item entitled, "K Street Veering Left." Turns out that House Speaker-in-waiting Nancy Pelosi's "...corporate contributions have spiked compared to 2004. Just in the third quarter of this year, her donors included such GOP-friendly groups as the American Bankers Assoc, the American Hospital Assoc, Credit Suisse, the Financial Services Roundtable, the Mortgage Bankers Assoc, Honeywell Corp, Accenture, Genworth, Lockheed Martin and even the Nat'l Beer Wholesalers."

House Majority Leader-in-waiting Steny Hoyer, who The Hotline calls "the chief K St liaison for House Democrats," is also cashing in: "...Hoyer has also has seen his corporate contributions soar from Republican-leaning sources. The National Retail Federation, Capital One, Sallie Mae, and Occidental Petroleum have all stepped up their giving from 2004 to the man who could be the next Maj[ority] Leader of the House."

The scariest part of this money flow is how the Democrats view their good fortune. According to The Hotline, "Asked about the influx of K St dollars to the would-be leaders of a Democratic-controlled House, Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly said it indicated "support for our agenda and the political reality that we have a chance to win."

I know, there's an attitude out there that says, right now, it's just about winning and good Democrats should just shut up and not ask hard questions about what our party stands for. But, how long do we think the Democratic majority--if it should come to pass this November--will last once the voters figure out that one party has simply elbowed aside the other party so it can harness the spigot from which corporate money gushes to grease the legislative process? How will we move real changes in health care (a single-payer system), stop the passage of more devastating so-called "free trade" agreements and strengthen the rights of workers who want to unionize if the check-writers from K Street don't miss a beat? These questions must be asked now of our party leaders. In six months, once the spoils of victory are divided (committee chairs, party positions) it will be the voters who are left wondering what they've voted for.