"Let’s show the American people that this is the People’s House, not the house of corporate interests and lobbyists and dark money!” one Democratic lawmaker said.
Not corporate interests! Not lobbyists! We hate them!
But hang on a second. In all its 444 pages, this bill makes no mention of some obvious ways to control corporate interests and lobbying. Last week, we called for a total ban on foreign government lobbying, and we got a huge reaction.
But the Democrats are perfectly fine with foreign government lobbying. It is not even mentioned in their bill. And no wonder. Lobbyists representing foreign governments donate to Democrats all the time.
Like Edward Newberry, for example. He’s a Squire Patton Boggs lobbyist who represents a number of foreign clients, including the Palestinian Authority. In the 2018 cycle, he donated to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and a "member of his family" donated to 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
Or Capitol Counsel lobbyist Ann Jablon, who represents a foundation sponsored by the Chinese government and donated to at least 10 Democratic House representatives in the 2018 cycle.
Next example: conflict donors. In my book "Positive Populism," I called for a total ban on conflict donors. I said that all politicians must recuse themselves from any legislative work on any issue involving current or past donors.
But the Democrats are totally fine with special interests bribing the members of Congress who regulate them - it's not even mentioned in their bill. And no wonder: In the 2018 cycle, the chair of the House Energy and Commerce committee, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., took over $100,000 from the electric utilities industry.
Americans want change. But H.R. 1 is not the change they're looking for. This bill is not for the people, as you claim. It is for the Swamp.
House Democrat and Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith received over $200,000 from defense companies, including Boeing and Northrop Grumman. And House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters took over $300,000 from the financial industry. Unbelievable. And that’s only the 2018 cycle!
But what about all the other swampy practices we regularly highlight on "Swamp Watch"? None of it was touched upon in the Democrats' bill because they thrive off swampy practices, like corporate lobbying. The defense sector gave Democrats over $10 million in the same cycle. The omnibus bill passed and handed hundreds of billions of dollars to defense contractors. Or how about the revolving door between business and government? For the Democrats, it never stops spinning.
For example, Lawrence Roberts was a senior advisor to Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, who’s a current member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Now, Roberts is a partner at lobbying firm Venable, whose 2018 clients included had a $260,000 contract with Lockheed Martin. Or how about Jason Cole – he’s the current chief of staff for Rep. Jim Himes, a member of the House Financial Services Committee. Before working for Himes, Cole was a lobbyist for, you guessed it, a financial services company. UBS Americas, to be exact.
The truth is the Democrats want to protect the Swamp, not drain it. They don't really want to change anything. In fact, new Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings gave the game away when he said at the end of the Michael Cohen hearing the other week when he said, "H.R. 1. Voting rights. Corruption in government ... Come on now! We can do more than one thing, and we have got to get back to normal."
There you have it. Back to normal. Back to lobbyists writing legislation. Back to big donors literally buying the outcomes they want. Back to bribery. Back to corruption. Back to their swampy ways.
No, Elijah Cummings. We most definitely do not want to get back to normal. Americans want change. But H.R. 1 is not the change they're looking for. This bill is not for the people, as you claim. It is for the Swamp.
Adapted from Steve Hilton's monologue from "The Next Revolution" on March 10, 2019.