New York Times: Lobbyists Court Potential Stars of House Panels

Written by admin on October 27th, 2010

The New York Times reports on the vast amount of campaign contributions flowing into campaigns of candidates expected to have committee chairs in the next Congress.

New York Times

To an outsider, it might be confounding why Mr. Camp, a relatively unknown Michigan Republican who has no viable challenger in his re-election bid this year, would be seeing such a flood of cash, including contributions from names like Bob Dole, the former United States senator turned lobbyist, and Joseph E. Gallo, the chief executive of E. & J. Gallo Winery in California.

But there is nothing mysterious for the lobbyists and corporate executives writing most of these checks. Mr. Camp is slated to take over the powerful, tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee if Republicans win the majority next week, transforming this low-key conservative Republican almost overnight into one of the most powerful men in town.

Across Washington, lobbyists have been working behind the scenes now for months to prepare for this possible power shift.

Former aides to Mr. Camp, who now work as lobbyists, are checking in with their onetime boss, chatting with him and his aides about staff appointments he might make when he takes over the Ways and Means Committee, and what tax or health care issues will be at the top of his agenda. Other lobbyists have gone to his staff to try to get to the head of the line in presenting proposed tax changes that will benefit their clients.

You don’t wait until Nov. 3 and say, ‘What is the plan,’ ” said Jennifer Bell, a former aide to Mr. Camp who is now a health care lobbyist.

Representative Howard P. McKeon, Republican of California, who is slated to take over the Armed Services Committee, has been a particular focus of attention, as military contractors fret over spending cuts proposed by the Obama administration.

For his 2008 campaign, Mr. McKeon collected $86,000 from the military industry for his political action committee and re-election bid. This time, even before the two-year election cycle is over, he has pulled in nearly $400,000, and has emerged as the top recipient of money in both the House and the Senate from military contractors like Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

Two of his former aides — who now work as military industry lobbyists — cornered him last month at a Capitol Hill reception held to unveil a portrait of Mr. McKeon, painted to honor his former service as chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee. (He held that spot for only several months, just before Republicans last lost control of Congress, but he still had a portrait commissioned.)


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