EXAMINE THE FOLLOWING passage from this morning’s The Hill, which despite its verbiage is furnished with a simple truth about lobbying:
“[Wayne] Abernathy is one of a few lobbyists who are considered close to [Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas)], a former aide to ex-Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) who has served five terms in the House. Lobbyists say several former Gramm aides who are now on K Street remain close to Hensarling.”
Translation: if you’re in with Phil, you’re in with Jeb, and therefore – considering the latter’s ascent to the chair of the House Committee on Financial Services – you’re in.
Lobbying is often blithely described as being “about who you know” (though it should be whom). But if it’s “about” anything, it may rather be whom they know. Though House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) can be reached via his Chief of Staff, Alexis Covey-Brandt, a lobbyist might opt for a more kindred spirit in ex-Chief of Staff Cory Alexander, now Senior VP of Government Affairs for UnitedHealth Group. In another vein, someone once in business with ex-Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) shouldn’t mourn a loss of influence. Her replacement is Rep. Ron Barber, who formerly served as her district director.
Gaining access to the circles in which a lawmaker walks is therefore aided by an understanding of their range. Some politicians may stay in touch with their bosses (Hensarling), some their staff (Hoyer). Some may pass the torch to a campaign director (Giffords), some their son (Bud Shuster, succeeded by Bill Shuster). If you know these things, and you leverage them correctly…you’re in.