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Jack Abramoff


This week the Senate Republicans rejected - twice - the DISCLOSE Act, Chuck Schumer's legislative counter to the Supreme Court's Citizens United verdict so hated by Democrats.  The acronym stands for "Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections" (who dreams up these bill titles - shouldn't they be punished in some way?). Its alleged purpose is to reveal who is behind the funding which fuels our election system.  Often in life, disclosure is a good thing.   There are few more liberating sensations than being honest.  The pressure of keeping a secret is intense, which is why the saying "getting something off your chest" expresses so well the deliverance one feels in being honest and open. When I was a lobbyist, honesty and openness were the last things we wanted.  In fact, we went to pains to avoid disclosing vital information about our efforts. 



Lobbyists tend to see opportunity in what others view as calamity. I know, because I did. During the decade I was a lobbyist in Washington, I would often examine legislation to discover hidden business opportunities. When Congress forbade an activity, some businesses would inevitably prosper providing an alternative service. Sometimes, ambiguity in legislative language would create loophole advantages for entrepreneurs. As a lobbyist, one of my jobs was to be one step ahead of the game; to discover the opportunities created, sometimes by congressional error, and provide that valuable information to those in the business or foundation sector that could benefit. Usually, the opportunities were minor and somewhat ambiguous, but sometimes a lobbyist would strike gold.  Last week, Chief Justice John Roberts published the lobbyist equivalent of an El Dorado treasure map.  He is now the hero of K Street.