If you harbor any thoughts that the interests of the American people are a chief concern of the entrenched political establishment in Washington, let us take you on a stroll down the K Street lobbyist money trail.
Punchbowl News reported Jan. 26:
“Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, a lobbying and law firm, hosted a major [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee] fundraiser [Jan. 25] that brought in more than $525,000 in contributions, including more than $120,000 in personal contributions.
“More than half of the Democratic Caucus attended the Brownstein event, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer [D-NY], Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin [D-IL], DSCC Chair Gary Peters (D-MI) [and] Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-NJ).”
What is Brownstein Hyatt? In a Swamp filled with over-fed creatures, the firm stands out as an alpha male gator.
Meet Ted Kennedy’s ‘101st Senator’
“Brownstein Hyatt surpassed the $60 million mark in federal lobbying revenue in 2022, leading a pack of Washington law firms that saw another windfall from government relations work,” Bloomberg News reported Jan. 23.
The Denver-based enterprise is one of the most powerful institutions operating inside Washington, DC, today, yet few Americans have ever heard its name. Founder Norm Brownstein, who hosted the Democrat cash bash, has wielded enormous influence on Capitol Hill for some three decades.
Brownstein played a significant role in the 1990s in getting a landmark piece of controversial legislation passed that effectively destroyed the radio dial and local independent cable television channels and paved the way for the soulless dominance of a handful of mega-corporations in the communications industry today. “Within a year of establishing the D.C. office, Mr. Brownstein was utilizing his prior experience to help the cable industry achieve a major victory in the 1996 Telecommunications Act, a bill that created the framework for our modern Internet and broadband economy,” his corporate bio states.
How did he do it?
“Of Norm Brownstein, Denver’s 5280 magazine said: ‘When Brownstein visits Capitol Hill, U.S. Senators follow him down the hall. Ted Kennedy calls him the 101st Senator. Bill Clinton takes his calls.’ The magazine described one of the legal firm’s principals, Steve Farber, as Denver’s most influential individual,” a 1998 article by High Country News explained. That was 25 years ago. Brownstein is riding higher than ever these days.
Master of the House
“The past two years on Capitol Hill have been lucrative for lobbyists, as major bills targeting COVID-19 and bolstering U.S. infrastructure reached the finish line,” Bloomberg noted. Pandemics and other large-scale “national emergencies” provide ideal ground for the behind-the-scenes money-funneling and influence-purchasing that lie at the heart of DC lobbying efforts.
Is that too harsh a way of putting things? Please read on.
Brownstein Hyatt recently named Nadeam Elshami and Will Moschella as co-chairs of its government relations practices. Elshami is the former chief of staff to ex-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “Moschella, a George W. Bush [Justice Department] and House Judiciary alum, is a nod to the firm’s longstanding emphasis on bipartisanship,” Politico reported January 3.
“Frankly, there are gonna be a lot of opportunities and challenges in the coming two years,” Elshami told the news outlet, adding that the firm expects to have “Republicans and Democrats working in leadership roles to drive forward an agenda for our clients.”
How’s that for a quote?
Acquiring the highest levels of intimate access to House bigwigs is a specialty of Brownstein Hyatt, no matter which party has control of the lower chamber. In October, the firm hired Will Dunham, former deputy chief of staff to Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). The move came as Republicans were widely expected to capture the House in the November midterm elections, with McCarthy poised to become speaker. Both events transpired to Brownstein Hyatt’s complete satisfaction.
“Top-level legislative negotiator. Trusted Republican leadership advisor. Connector between policy, politics and advocacy,” Dunham’s firm bio boasts of its new man:
“Will Dunham served for seven years as Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy’s top policy director and liaison to House committees, the Senate and executive branch, through every type of political terrain – House majority and minority, and Democrat and Republican administrations.
“As the lead House Republican staffer in bipartisan, bicameral negotiations, Will developed a deep understanding of the legislative process.”
Lobbyist Writing Legislation
Brownstein Hyatt represents pharmaceutical and other medical corporations. Shockingly, one of the selling points the firm specifically makes to this industry that flourished as Americans suffered during the coronavirus pandemic and its associated coercive social curbs is that it is able to “draft legislation” on its behalf.
“Brownstein’s Health Care Group works with providers, plans, bioscience and pharmaceutical companies, and medical device and supply companies in a variety of areas,” the firm says on its website. A page titled “Health Care Experience” flatly declares: “Playing an active role in policy formation and in the political decision-making process is an imperative and requires a dynamic approach. Our team proactively engages to protect your interests and achieve your political objectives in Washington by deploying substantive health care expertise to influence debates, recruit validators and ensure successful outcomes.”
Among the services offered are:
- Represent clients before Congress and federal agencies
- Provide technical policy advice
- Draft legislation
- Form coalitions
Ted Kennedy’s “101st senator” can count on having every prominent Democrat senatorial leader appear at his lavish parties as he promises clients that his people will write the bills. Given all this, is it accurate to still call the United States of America a representative republic of the people?
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