The January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol during certification of the presidential election in many ways is a kinetic distraction from an on-going, less visible, and possibly more damaging assault on legitimate government in a representative democracy.
The US Department of Justice has filed federal criminal charges against more than 400 US citizens for rioting during the counting of electoral votes. But President Trump’s delayed call to the mob to abandon the assault and the subsequent arrests did not safeguard democracy’s integrity from bi-partisan dry rot from within.
As Lee Fang points out in a January 11, 2021 story in The Intercept, lobbyists gain access and influence to policy on a daily basis through an unguarded “revolving door,” by which lobbyists obtain positions as influential aides and counsel to members of Congress and in the executive branch. None of the newly appointed lobbyists who may be undermining the integrity of government policy have yet to be arrested or charged, although their intent may in many ways be more damaging than those of the camo-draped rioters.
For example, a former Google lobbyist did not have to scale walls or break windows to become a legislative aide to Sen. Gary Peters. The Colorado Democrat sits on the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet, which has jurisdiction over legislation Congressional action involving the Internet. Meanwhile, Alaska’s Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, who sits on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, hired Kaleb Froehlich as her chief of staff. Froehlich previously “ran his own business dealing with oil and gas and patent law issues.”
Less than two miles away, the incoming Biden administration has announced Louisa Terrell, a government affairs official at the consulting firm McKinsey & Company and a former lobbyist for Facebook, will serve as the director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, handling negotiations with Congress. And Steve Ricchetti, a longtime adviser to President-elect Joe Biden, was named as the White House counselor shortly after Biden’s election. Ricchetti is a former corporate lobbyist whose brother still operates a firm under the family name. Just after the announcement, Amazon signed the family lobbying firm, run by his brother Jeff Ricchetti, to represent its interests before the administration.
The question is, which group is more dangerous?
Lee Fang, “As the Revolving Door Spins, Lobbyists Hired for Top Jobs in Congress Yet Again,” The Intercept, January 11, 2021, https://theintercept.com/2021/01/11/congress-lobbyists-biden/.
Suzanne Downing, “Kaleb Froehlich Named New Chief of Staff for Murkowski,” Must Read Alaska, December 14, 2020, https://mustreadalaska.com/kaleb-froehlich-named-new-chief-of-staff-for-murkowski/.
Student Researcher: Justin Byers (Saint Mary’s College of California)
Faculty Evaluator: Nolan Higdon (Saint Mary’s College of California)Print