Ralph Reed

My wife said that one of her colleagues today asked her why Microsoft would hire Ralph Reed as a lobbyist.  How about because given the wonders of our political system, hiring conservative lobbyists is the only way to get your voice heard in DC these days?

DeLay organized the “K Street Project” in the 1990s to help Republicans grab more special-interest money in Washington. This scheme—named for the D.C. street that is home to many lobby shops—threatens corporations and trade groups with political reprisals if they hire Democrats as top lobbyists.

I think it’s crazy to assume that Reed was ever asked to ponder social value or civil rights issues.  The New York Times thinks so too, according to this, which says “the initial New York Times story makes it pretty clear that Microsoft thought it was hiring Reed to lobby Bush”.  You hire Ralph Reed to get the attention of the Republican majority, that's all.


Is it terrible that Microsoft feels like it has to have a strong lobby presence in order to achieve business goals?  Yes.  Fortune had an interesting article a few years back that explained the history of the MS lobbying effort.  It’s not a very flattering story, and it gets the cause and effect backwards when it says MS “has created a model for influencing government that other companies are sure to follow.”  The point, however, is sadly clear: the companies with the $$ and the lobbyists are better off than those without.  When your competitors are spending money in DC and you aren’t, you lose.  So now Microsoft spends money in DC.


Is it particularly terrible that Tom DeLay’s K Street Project means that it’s no longer just about spending $$ in DC, it’s now about spending $$ with DeLay’s favorite Republican buddies?  Yep.


It’s a crooked game, but it’s the only game in town.


As always, my writings represent only my own views, and are not intended to reflect those of my employer.

Comments (2)

  1. Alex G. says:

    Why so surprised? This game has been going on for 200 years (and far far longer throughout the world – influence peddling was rife in ancient Rome). I remember 15 years ago when I was lobbying for a non-profit that focused on homeless issues. A democratic senator refused to sit down and hear us out on a specific bill we wanted brought to the floor until we had helped his brother in law get a job through a connection on our board.

    Once we got his brother in law the job, the Senator made it clear that he was upset that another one of our board members, who had contributed to his campaign in the past, had not done so that year. So the board member ponied up some money. After that, the senator was a tireless backer of our bill and it was through his relentless efforts that it finally got pushed through and approved.

    When I was in Washington in the early 80s, the amount of "dirty" stuff that Democratic senators considered ok was amazing. Most of it lead to the late 80s ethics scandals that brought down some of the most powerful Democratic politicians in the country and helped pave the way to the Republican revolution of 1992.

    This is the way the world works all around in so many areas, not just in the corporate backrooms. Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours is a completely bipartisan phenomenon that occurs in all aspects of life.

    Don’t act so surprised.

  2. theCoach says:

    This is the best explanation for hiring Reed. Unfortunately, the above logic also completetly justifies Ralph Reed’s opponents in harshly criticizing Microsoft, boycotting, etc. After all, that is how the game is played and it does not make sense to acknowledge there is a game being played, then refuse to engage in the game giving your opponent easy victory.

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