During his campaign to represent Wisconsin in the U.S. Senate, GOP nominee Ron Johnson accused Democratic incumbent Russell Feingold (D) of being "on the side of special interests and lobbyists."The staff choices are as fitting as they are discomforting. Many of the Tea Party candidates owe their electoral victories to corporate and special interest money.
...But after defeating Feingold, Johnson himself has turned to K Street for help - hiring homeland security lobbyist Donald H. Kent Jr. as his chief of staff.
Johnson is not alone: Many incoming GOP lawmakers have hired registered lobbyists as senior aides. Several of the candidates won with strong support from the anti-establishment tea party movement.
...In addition to Johnson, Sen.-elect Mike Lee (Utah) has announced that energy lobbyist Spencer Stokes will be his chief of staff. Tea party favorite Rand Paul (Ky.) has hired anti-union lobbyist Douglas Stafford as his top senatorial aide.
In the House, Rep.-elect Charlie Bass (N.H.) has named food industry lobbyist John W. Billings as his chief of staff. Billings was a senior aide to Bass during an earlier stint on Capitol Hill.
Sen.-elect Chip Cravaack (Minn.) has hired former U.S. senator and former lobbyist Rod Grams as his interim chief of staff, though aides have said the posting is probably not permanent. Grams's lobbying clients from 2002 to 2006 included 3M, Norfolk Southern and the Financial Services Roundtable, records show.
Other incoming GOP lawmakers who have recruited staff from K Street include Robert Dold (Ill.), Steve Pearce (N.M.) and Jeff Denham (Calif.). John Goodwin of the National Rifle Association, one of Washington's most powerful lobbying groups, has signed on as chief of staff for Rep.-elect Raul Labrador (Idaho).
Now the paymasters are claiming their seats at the table.