Book Explores Lobbying Industry's Shift to Big Business

Authors Brody and Luke Mullins explore the transformation of the lobbying industry in their book "The Wolves of K Street". The book focuses on influential figures like Tommy Boggs, Paul Manafort, and Tony Podesta, who shifted the industry's priorities from labor unions to corporate interests.

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Nitish Verma
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Book Explores Lobbying Industry's Shift to Big Business

Book Explores Lobbying Industry's Shift to Big Business

In their book "The Wolves of K Street: The Secret History of How Big Money Took Over Big Government," authors Brody and Luke Mullins delve into the transformation of the lobbying industry from representing labor unions and consumer groups to serving the interests of Big Business. The over 500-page book focuses on three influential dynasties that emerged in the late 20th century: Tommy Boggs of Patton Boggs, Black Manafort and Stone, and Tony Podesta.

Why this matters: The shift in the lobbying industry's priorities has significant implications for the balance of power in Washington, potentially leading to policies that favor corporate interests over those of the general public. As a result, it can erode trust in the government and exacerbate social and economic inequalities.

The authors highlight how the lobbying industry evolved from protecting consumers from capitalism to advancing the agenda of corporate interests. This shift was a bipartisan phenomenon, with Democratic President Bill Clinton's neoliberal policies contributing to the change. The book traces the lineage of influence peddler Tommy Boggs, whose father, Democratic Rep. Hale Boggs, worked to promote New Deal liberalism.

Among the key figures featured in the book are Paul Manafort, a Republican strategist who teamed up with Tony Podesta to lobby on behalf of a controversial Ukrainian president, and Tony Podesta himself, the brash head of the Podesta Group. Both Manafort and Podesta found themselves embroiled in controversies that ultimately led to the downfall of their respective firms.

The book also explores pivotal moments that shaped the lobbying industry, such as Justice Lewis Powell's 1971 memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, "Attack on American Free Enterprise System," which persuaded corporate interests to fight back politically. Other notable events include Hale Boggs' plane disappearance in Alaska in 1972, Tony Podesta's role in torpedoing Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination in 1987, and Tommy Boggs' efforts to kill Bill Clinton's universal health coverage plan in the 1990s.

The fates of the influential figures in the book vary. Paul Manafort was sentenced to over seven years in prison for financial crimes before being pardoned by President Donald Trump in 2020. Tony Podesta lost his lobbying and PR firm in 2017. Supporting "The Wolves of K Street" offers a comprehensive look at the major players and events that transformed the lobbying industry into a powerful force serving corporate interests in Washington.

Key Takeaways

  • The lobbying industry shifted from representing labor unions to serving Big Business interests.
  • This shift favors corporate interests over the general public, eroding trust in government.
  • Three influential dynasties emerged: Patton Boggs, Black Manafort and Stone, and Tony Podesta.
  • Key figures like Paul Manafort and Tony Podesta were embroiled in controversies that led to their downfalls.
  • The book explores pivotal moments that shaped the lobbying industry, including Justice Lewis Powell's 1971 memo.