K Street Project
The K Street Project is a project by the Republican Party to pressure Washington lobbying firms to hire Republicans in top positions, and to reward loyal GOP lobbyists with access to influential officials. It was launched in 1995, by Republican strategist Grover Norquist and House majority leader Tom DeLay.
K Street in Washington DC is where the big lobbying firms have their headquarters and is sometimes refered to as the fourth branch of government. Lobbying firms have great influence in U.S. national politics due to monetary resources and the revolving door policy of hiring former government officials. It is common practice for politicians to request money from lobbying firms for an exchange in better access to officials and to buy favoritism in policies.
Historically, K Street hires top ex-politicians from both major parties since party in power can vary between elections and among the legislative and executive branches in government.
During most of the George W. Bush administration, the Republican party had majority control of both houses of Congress, in addition to control of the White House. DeLay of the House, Rick Santorum of the Senate, and Grover Norquist took this opportunity to expand the K Street Project by pressuring major lobbying firms to hire only Republicans in any new or open positions.
But in June 2004, the Washington Post reported that the power of the K Street Project might be waning. "According to a review of job listings in Influence.biz, a lobbying newsletter, more than 40 percent of lobbyists with identifiable party backgrounds hired in the past six months have been Democrats. During the same period a year earlier, Democrats constituted only 30 percent of those hired." 
With "Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) running neck and neck with President Bush in most polls and with the outlook for the Senate a tossup, a wide range of interest groups are filling some of their lobbying and public relations openings with Democrats -- just in case the center of influence switches. 'There is some bet-hedging going on that wasn't going on a year and a half ago,' said Thomas Hale Boggs Jr. of Patton Boggs LLP, one of Washington's largest lobbying-law firms." --Washington Post, July 1, 2004.
In September 2004, The Hill reported the opposite K Street hiring trend: "Retiring House Democrats are feeling a cold draft from K Street as they seek post-congressional employment at lobbying firms, trade groups and corporations. By contrast, K Street is aggressively courting GOP lawmakers who have announced their retirements, suggesting that the business community is confident the GOP will retain the Speaker's gavel in January and that business wants to fortify its Republican Rolodexes." 
Not everyone agreed with the conclusion that "the 'K Street Project' is alive and well"; "Democrats argue that the crop of retiring lawmakers seeking employment is not broad enough to discern a pattern or divine the intentions of K Street." Retiring Republican Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn, who was interviewing with 15 firms, said K Street's current GOP bias is needed to balance a long period of Democratic bias, when the Dems enjoyed House majority party status for 40 years. "K Street is still only 30 percent Republican, so there's a lot more work to do to make it even," said Dunn.
Official Website: KStreetProject.com
- Geoff Earle, "Dems fear lobbying blacklist," The Hill, November 16, 2004.
- Hans Nichols, "K Street freezes out Dems," The Hill, September 15, 2004.
- Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "Going Left on K Street: More Democrats Hired to Lobby Despite GOP Efforts to Shut Them Out," Washington Post, July 2, 2004.
- Nicholas Confessore, "Welcome to the Machine,", The Washington Monthly, July/August 2003.
- David Brancaccio talks to Marty Kaplan, "Pressure Afoot at K Street" (audio), Marketplace, July 1, 2003.
- Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, "Congress Has No Reason to Favor Either Side as Phone and Cable Companies Battle," Washington Post, June 27, 2005.
- Carrie Sheffield, "Norquist seeks trademark on ‘K Street Project’ name," The Hill, April 12, 2006.