Lobbyists in Control of Congress

Lee FangThe top lobbyist for Chevron, Stephen Sayle, is now a senior staff member for the House Committee on Science, which oversees science policy for the federal government. This is a lobbyist, Mr Sayle, who has helped Chevron beat back regulatory efforts that rest on federal science — whether it’s on the ozone or on climate change. And now that he is overseeing the science committee, he has a unique opportunity to shift not only policy that not only governs the way that federal science is used to implement pollution regulations, he also has an opportunity to help with the science committee’s “investigation” of climate scientists. Over the years, the science committee has brought in scientists to quiz them on climate science and other issues that are very controversial now given the EPA’s pursuit of regulations that affect the fossil fuel industry.

This isn’t a unique dynamic. In the last two Congresses, we’ve seen some unprecedented wholesale change in the senior staff positions in Congress. I’m referring to the chief of staff, which reports directly to a member of Congress or Senator. Or the staff director position. And that’s a position that oversees either a committee or subcommittee. In almost every single position or staff director, we’ve seen lobbyist from the relevant industry take those spots. So before the agricultural committee, which oversees school lunches and nutrition guidelines, we now have a Pepsi lobbyist who is overseeing that committee. In the Senate arms services committee, which oversees military spending, we have a lobbyist for the trade group that represents Lockheed Martin and Boeing, now leading that committee. So from committee to committee, no matter whether it’s on chemical safety, no matter whether it’s on pollution or on school lunches, we have lobbyists for the industries effected running the show from the inside.

—Lee Fang
Interviewed on CounterSpan

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