On Sunday The Washington Post ran the first in what is to be a 25-part profile on the growth the lobbying industry in Washington through the eyes of top Washington lobbyist Gerald Cassidy. Intended to be an analysis of how Cassidy rose through the ranks to become a player in DC, all the while helping to transform lobbying into the access-buying influence game it is today, it ought to be an illuminating peak at an industry under fire in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal.
The first installment touches several times on how Cassidy learned to play the campaign contribution game in Washington to make friends among key legislators:
One of Cassidy's earliest corporate clients was the Ocean Spray Cranberry cooperative, a national organization of cranberry and grapefruit growers. Ocean Spray got him into the political contributions business; he set up a political action committee for the group and decided which members of Congress would receive its largesse. That only increased Cassidy's influence.
He became an ardent advocate of giving generously to key allies:
The business involves giving as well as receiving. As lobbying became more and more lucrative, Cassidy realized that members of Congress who helped his clients could be thanked with campaign contributions. "You can't be in this business and not give," he once explained.
Though Cassidy made his name as a Democratic lobbyist, the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress prompted him to reach across the aisle, where he developed relationships with both Rep. Roy Blount (R-MO) and then House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX).
You can follow the Cassidy profile here , entitled "Citizen K Street"-- it will only be available in the online version of the Post.