Who Is a Lobbyist?
Until I read Michael Isikoff’s latest Newsweek story, if asked, I’d have called David Axelrod a political strategist, maybe a consultant. Now, I’d have to tack on the term lobbyist.
Isikoff points to the activities of Axelrod’s consulting firm, ASK Public Strategies, which runs campaigns for heavy hitters, like Commonwealth Edison and Cablevision. Cablevision’s $1.1 million deal with ASK to drum up support to block a new Jet’s stadium was called the "largest lobbying contract" of the year by New York’s lobbying commission in 2004.
It’s tricky to say who should fall under the lobbyist umbrella, particularly in Axelrod’s case. He doesn’t wander the halls of Congress with a checkbook pressing members for earmarks, but certainly private groups looking for public perks see him as a a gun for hire. It’s certainly the kind of work that falls under the broad category of "political influence."
I’ve actually decided to carve out this idea of political influence as a new beat for myself here at TWI. It’s an important part of the Washington world that explains much of the news we read in headlines here. I’m hoping to investigate these policy end games to start answering that simple but in important question: why?