10/19/2007 09:32 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Invisible Culture of Corruption

Note: If you are tired of major issues like this getting no coverage in the face of a media blackout and thus you would like to see my nationally syndicated column in your local paper, see the bottom of this post on what to do to make that happen. - D

For all the headlines about corruption that we saw in the lead-up to the 2006 election, we have to remember that the most pernicious form of corruption is the kind that is difficult to see - the kind that reporters and politicians alike pretend doesn't exist, but which lobbying disclosure records expose. This is the subject of my nationally syndicated newspaper column this week, out today.

As Congress considers passing a new package of NAFTA-like trade deals, K Street is now employing the smoothest strategies of deceit to get Democrats to capitulate. Though Democrats ran in 2006 on an explicit promise to radically reform America's trade policy, and though these deals are opposed by almost every major labor, human rights, anti-poverty, consumer protection and environmental groups, Washington lobbyists may very well get their way - with the help of a media that refuses to point out blatant conflicts of interest.

Specifically, a letter signed by 43 Democratic officeholders in support of the new NAFTAs has been blanketing Washington at the very same time new polls show broad public opposition to NAFTA-style trade policy. The media has dutifully reported on the letter, conservative think tanks have been trumpeting it, and President Bush even lauded it in a big speech last week. And yet, somehow, not a single reporter bothered to mention that most of the people who signed this letter were acting not out of objective, altruistic statesmanship. No, most of the signatories on the letter are paid corporate lobbyists, corporate lawyers or corporate consultants who represent industries with a direct financial stake in seeing these trade deals pass.

I provide some of the sordid details in my column - details of which lobbyists on the letter represent which companies. You should feel free to look even further. For instance, you can cross-reference the letter with House and Senate lobbying records. You can also look at the Center for Responsive Politics' Revolving Door Database.

One of the great things about the netroots and the blogosphere is the commitment to transparency and Open Government. That's what my column is all about - the need for such transparency, and the proof that the powers that be in Washington actually collude to hide the truth in a way that makes the most pernicious lobbying efforts seem totally above board. One of the things the netroots can be most effective in doing is exposing this kind of rampant corruption - because you better believe it is everywhere on every single policy moving through Congress.

Go read the whole column here and let me know what you think. And if you'd like to see my column regularly in your local paper, use this directory to find the contact info for your local editorial page editors. Get get in touch with them and point them to my Creators Syndicate site.

Cross-posted from Working Assets