Time for Washington to end the tradition of ‘pay to play’ politics

Time for Washington to end the tradition of 'pay to play' politics
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Congratulations, Mick Mulvaney. You put in stark relief what most Americans know in their gut: There’s a broken, “pay to play’ system in Washington. But it would be wrong to say you are the problem and leave it at that. That’s not really the case.

Nor should this “wretched” state of affairs be laid at the feet of lobbyists. The right for a redress of grievances is enshrined in our Constitution, and it’s an important right to exercise. There’s no constitutional imperative that requires lobbyists to be at the center of the current system that is up to its eyeballs in transactional giving.

I should know, I have been a registered lobbyist for decades. Even the National Institute for Lobbying & Ethics, a trade group for lobbyists, bristled at Mulvaney’s candid admission, saying, “This should not be be the norm or how ‘business’ is done in Washington.”

Mulvaney’s words, “If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you,” are emblematic of a larger sickness of a “pay to play” system of cash exchanging hands for access and policy outcomes. Members of Congress, especially those who aspire to leadership positions, spend too much time soliciting campaign contributions, and they hate it.

Average citizens, rightly so, have little to no confidence in our institutions, especially Congress. This isn’t really working for anyone except for those few moneyed interests who can play and win at the game, and the…

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