The consolidation of the special interest and influence communities — lobbying, public relations, media strategy, political consulting, fundraising, the bread and butter of Washington — has substantial consequences:
*As more and more members of the House and Senate leave their positions to go into these lucrative fields, one company more than any other will oversee their compensation, bonuses, performance requirements and tenure.
*In the formerly highly entrepreneurial fields of public relations, lobbying, and legislative and election strategizing, the young and hungry are no longer rewarded with glamorous renegade stature (for example, Lee Atwater and Roger Stone). Nor can they count on equity in a small but growing operation. Now they must get their rewards in stock options and bonuses.
*Although a center of world power, Washington, from the vantage point of WPP, is a profitable second tier market, a city subordinate to the glitter and cash of New York, London, Paris and Buenos Aires.Are these people the real power brokers in DC with many members of Congress being their puppets. It sure looks like it from our vantage point. Mitt Romney who is the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party is raising millions from these people and yet they go after Obama on raising money from Hollywood. Not afraid of the people of Hollywood but when you read this article, you should be very afraid of what is happening to America. It is not Obama as the conservative media wants you to believe -- it is this group of unethical, underhanded people running America right now. They want one of their own as President which is Mitt Romney who was an unethical, underhanded head of Bain Capital who is buying up media resources so they can get more support for Romney.
It you want a lobbyist with close ties to Mitt Romney, look no further than Charlie Black, the iconic Republican operative, now a senior Romney campaign adviser and chairman of the Prime Policy Group. Or top fundraiser Wayne Berman at Ogilvy Government Relations (distinct from another WPP subsidiary, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide).
Want a former member of the House? How about Norman Mineta at Hill+Knowlton – he represented California in the House and was Secretary of Transportation under George W. Bush, not a bad choice to lobby Congress and DOT on behalf of the U.S. Coalition for Advanced Diesel Cars.
When Bain Capital, the company Romney helped found, sought to hire someone to “monitor tax reform developments” – in other words, to watch out for ominous changes in the tax code – it turned to WPP’s Public Strategies, paying the firm $320,000 in 2011.How does that make you feel as a voter to know that lobbyists control what happens in Congress and now they are part of big business with ties around the world. It disgusts me to no end and think that members of Congress/Administration should be forbidden from joining these firms for at least five years.
Now Republicans want Mitt Romney for President who is part of this unethical, corrupt climate. Romney and his people have corrupted this primary and are now in the process of corrupting state conventions like the one in Oklahoma where rules didn't matter as we reported below this article and by other resources today. Is this why Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and others don't want new Senators to actually believe in limited government?
This article would explain why Romney has support of the establishment as they didn't want anyone who might rock the boat to get the nomination. In order to get the Massachusetts liberal, some have morphed into pretzels trying to defend his policies which change sometimes on a daily basis. Where have the lack of ethics and honesty gone from the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan when you knew where a candidate stood? Looks like they have been thrown under the bus along with standing for limited government.
As the American political classes become more polarized, with faction pitted against faction, there is a consolidating force at work in the $6 billion-a-year influence-peddling industry.
Once a free-wheeling, if ethically challenged, crowd of men (and almost no women), who swapped stories about their clients over Jack Daniels, these expert manipulators of the legislative process and of public opinion have become corporate employees. Slowly but surely, WPP, an immense international holding company based in London — with a workforce of 158,000 in 107 countries and 2011 billings of $72.3 billion — has been buying up Washington’s top lobbying, public relations, advertising and political strategy firms.
WPP has become, in effect, a special interest mega-firm, with offerings for conservatives and liberals, environmentalists and polluters, gun lovers and gun haters, Tea Party die-hards and public sector unions, old guard media and their high tech competitors – the entire gamut from left to right, top to bottom.
Companies once viewed by those in politics as independent powerhouses — QGA (formerly Quinn Gillespie), Glover Park, Hill+Knowlton, Burson-Marsteller, Public Strategies, Prime Policy Group, Dewey Square, Ogilvy Government Relations, Wexler & Walker – are now minor players in a marketing-communications conglomerate.
In the process, Washington political media strategy shops have come to play second fiddle to the biggest money makers for WPP — Madison Avenue advertising firms like Y & R.
|Courtesy of WPP|
Asked why, unlike most of his competitors, he had kept his firm independent, the Democratic strategist Lawrence F. O’Brien, III, founder of the OB-C Group, LLC, whose clients include Anheuser-Busch, Eli Lilly, Honeywell International and K.K.R., emailed The Times:
WPP is prepared to swallow everybody with a profitable bottom line.
- Master of own destiny, create your own work place rules and atmospherics and performance standards, report to no one else, answer to no one else, far better able to discern and manage potential client “conflicts” in a thoroughly professional and ethical manner.
- A top Republican lobbyist, who has tried out working for a conglomerate but is now back on his own, described the former experience as “poison.” The conglomerate “sucks out 40 to 50 percent of the profit, and your bonus is set by folks in some other city,” he said in an interview.
Shortly after the 2004 election, four Internet specialists who had worked for Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean founded Blue State Digital “to develop tools and strategic services that would empower campaigns and cause-related organizations to build meaningful action-oriented communities.”
In 2008, Blue State asserted that it had “raised more than $500 million online, mobilized millions of volunteers, and built an unprecedented community of 13 million individual supporters that helped propel President Obama into office.”
Then, at the end of 2010, WPP bought Blue State. “Any political clients are still going to reflect our values,” Joe Rospars, a founding partner, told Fast Company, affirming the company’s ideological commitment, before adding:
Martin Sorrell, WPP’s C.E.O., argues that there are three major advantages for a Washington firm that joins an international company like WPP.
- What we really liked about WPP was that they have a broad network of companies in spaces that are complementary to where we work — whether it’s in advertising, research, or general consulting. We’re working alongside different companies like that all the time, so having closer relationships with them makes our work better and makes the overall experience for the client better. The other thing about WPP is its international footprint. They’re in over 100 countries. Having a set of ready-made potential partners in different countries will offer us the opportunity to take both our agency services as well as our technology to market in a much more organized fashion.
First, in Sorrell’s view, successful representation increasingly “depends on international connections and international capabilities are becoming more and more important.” Second, lobbying and other forms of advocacy require access to multiple communications systems, including social media, advertising and others that WPP can offer to its individual subsidiaries. Third, while lobbying used to be based primarily on “who you know, not what you know,” now detailed understanding of issues in all their complexity is essential, putting a relatively small independent operation at a competitive disadvantage.
WPP (“the Group”) describes itself this way in its 2011 annual report:
- There are more than 150 companies within the Group – and each is a distinctive brand in its own right. Each has its own identity, commands its own loyalty, and is committed to its own specialist expertise. That is their individual strength. Clients seek their talent and their experience on a brand-by-brand basis. Between them, our companies work with 344 of the Fortune Global 500, all 30 of the Dow Jones 30, 63 of the NASDAQ 100 and 33 of the Fortune e-50.What this means in Washington is that WPP is everywhere.
The conversion of the lobbyist from a backslapper into the “man in the gray flannel suit” has already had a significant effect on American politics.
The most important is that the influence industry has become unexpectedly depoliticized and disaffected. While disdained by the public at large, many lobbyists, campaign consultants, and P.R. types were, in the past, deeply concerned with and involved in the political system. They were personally vested in the institution of government.
The steady take-over of this unofficial branch of government by WPP, Omnicom, Interpublic and other conglomerates has turned premier lobbyists, strategists and political operatives into a species of bureaucrat, now vested in bottom-line corporate goals. Their interest in the substance of what Congress accomplishes, in policy outcomes, and in the direction of the country, has diminished. In fact, one could say that the more legislative dysfunction, the more billable hours.
“It’s chipped away at the quality of work on both sides,” says a senior Democratic operative, now a partner in an independent boutique lobbying and public relations firm. “This has become a business where mediocrity abounds. Once you get bought, you are dis-incentivized. There’s no pride of ownership, and everyone knows the top folks are going to leave as soon as their earn-out comes to an end.”
Still, the corporatization of K Street and of the political consulting industry has taken on a momentum and inevitability that assure the process will continue, regardless of the consequences.
Thomas B. Edsall, a professor of journalism at Columbia University, is the author of the book “The Age of Austerity: How Scarcity Will Remake American Politics,” which was published earlier this year.
Excerpt: Read More at the New York TimesIs this why Wall Street and K Street fell in line early behind Romney plus a lot of members of Congress who are looking to go to these groups when they leave Congress? Makes a lot of sense as some are not getting far with the Obama Administration. That is the same Obama Administration being demonized by the Republican establishment as four more years of Obama will end our rights which I refuse to believe because I still have my rights after two years of a Democrat dominated Government. The Republican establishment obviously are looking out for themselves and not the rest of us.
Is it possible that those of us who believe in limited government are being fed koolaid by the establishment/Romney types in order to get Romney elected and turn our Government over to the wealthy along with the international groups that seem to be pulling the strings of some members of Congress today? Who better to have in the White House then one of their own?