Go read this article and tell me there's a not a relationship between lobbyists donating to members of Congress and getting special access to that Member to talk about whatever policy they're pushing. It's fundraising season and K Street denizens are dusting off their pet projects, opening their wallets, and preparing to digest a lot of rubber chicken.
The Politico lays the scene:
For some donors, it’s all about their contributions early on. For others, there’s more strategy to it. “Givingdonations across the full two-year or six-year Senate cycle gives clients that many more opportunities to meet with the member,” said Mark Irion, CEO of Dutko Worldwide. While fundraising events vary from intimate breakfasts to large ballroom spreads, they offer lobbyists a chance not only to touch base with their current clients but also to woo new ones.
Irion said he gravitates toward business events that allow lobbyists to make presentations and participate in breakout group exercises to meet potential clients.
“I feel like we’re the duds at the party when it comes to the schmooze stuff,” he said. “We prefer the hands-on approach.”
That "hands-on approach" sure goes well with the hand-in-pocket approach of incumbents facing tough re-election fights or hoping to stave off challengers.
Rounding out the article is this dose of irony:
Congress recessed for the holidays, leaving behind a stack of unfinished legislation, including major bills dealing with global warming and President Bush’s No Child Left Behind education program. The roiling politics of a presidential election year also means a tighter legislative calendar, with the must-do appropriations bills inevitably the major priority of both parties.
And that could push some of the lobbying below the radar screen, as lobbyists work to focus on earmarks and other appropriations issues rather than sweeping policy proposals.
“There is not much time to take up unfinished business, especially big-ticket issues,” Green said.
So, it's even more cutthroat to get your time with a member of Congress, which means even more pressure to take advantage of special access via campaign contributions, which just perpetuates the cycle of members of Congress spending half their time fundraising and less time attending to legislative priorities.