By on December 30, 2009

The lobbyists are revolting...

The Washington Examiner reports that, having previously moved its lobbying efforts to an exclusively in-house arrangement, GM is now hiring outside lobbyists again [UPDATE: GM’s chief in-house lobbyist just retired]. GM has rehired its old lobbying firms the Duberstein Group and Greenberg Traurig, and has added GrayLoeffler to its K-Street roster. GM is also keeping the “well connected” Washington Tax Group on its lobbying payroll, having picked up the firm’s representation in 2007. From these firms, some 18 lobbyists have registered as GM representatives, including a list of what the Wasington Examiner calls “well-connected revolving-door players from both parties.”

Former Reps. William Gray III, D-Pa., and Jim Bacchus, R-Fla., are both on GM retainer, as are fabled Republican and Democratic operatives Ken Duberstein (White House chief of staff under Ronald Reagan) and Michael Berman (counsel to Vice President Walter Mondale and campaign aide to every Democratic presidential nominee since LBJ).

Heading GM’s lobbying push for expanded R&D tax credits is the Washington Tax Group’s Gregory Nickerson, formerly the top lawyer at the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee and the staff director of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures. Nickerson’s partner is Mary Ellen McCarthy, formerly the top lawyer at the Senate’s tax-writing Finance Committee.

So what is this all costing taxpayers? GM wouldn’t reveal its exact lobbying budget, but the WashEx explains that

Duberstein Group’s average quarterly fee last quarter was $94,000, while Greenberg Traurig’s was $40,000 and GrayLoeffler’s was $28,000. In the third quarter, GM paid the Washington Tax Group $25,000.

And since GM isn’t making money of its own, these Beltway barons are being paid with public money from GM’s $52b bailout. And GM isn’t just paying these guys for general representation. For a GM IPO to be successful, the Volt will need to be commercially viable. And short of significant consumer tax breaks, there’s not much chance for the 2,900 lb, $40k, compact four-seater EREV. Having already scored a grip of Volt subsidies, including hundreds of millions for its Korean battery supplier, expect GM’s lobbying team to push hard for deeper tax breaks for Volt purchases. Because, as is surely being whispered around the corridors of the Capitol, what’s good for GM is now literally good for America. And if some lobbyists get rich in the process, well, the system must be working.

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17 Comments on “Bailout Watch 578: GM Embraces Publicly-Funded Lobbying...”

  • avatar

    Remember folks, politicians are like diapers, they should be changed frequently and for the same reason!  (For the denser members of the B&B, cause their full of sh**!)

  • avatar

    Sooo…we are paying the Gov to pay GM to make cars that we will not pay a profitable price to own and are now paying to lobby the Gov to continue to …

    Yah, this all makes sense…right.


  • avatar

    No one should be surprised by this.  This is the way Washington operates. 

    Lobbyists for Defense contractors are obviously paid for by government funds.  The pharmaceutical industry gets some of it income from Medicare part D.  And other medical enterprises such as CT scanner maker GE are partly funded by government Medicare payments. 

    The farmers lobby is partly paid for by subsidies in the farm program.  And the ethanol lobby is obviously paid in part  by ethanol subsidies and governments mandates.  

    And the biggest of all lately is public funds going to banks and insurance companies like Citi and AIG who no doubt have their own small army of lobbyists.

    I could go on and on.

    There’s hardly an industry in the country that does not benefit in some way from public expenditure part of which ends up in the hands of lobbyists.

    The unusual would be a recipient of public funds who did not lobby for it.

    • 0 avatar

      97, +1. I find it amazing that this practice has been going on as the author stated, since the Reagan years and we act like its some kind of new thing. Lobbyists are and have been publicly funded for years for anything and everything from healthcare to long-range fueling aircraft. No one ever made a fuss over the mystery defense budget the W presidency utilized for 7 years, so why should you expect GM to be any different?

    • 0 avatar

      Surprised? No. On the other hand, if Treasury can demand pay caps for TARP recipients, a restriction on lobbying doesn’t seem like a wildly unrealistic “string” to attach.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think any one is Washington is ready to hurt lobbying in any way by any company.  The benefits go to the congressmen by fringe benefits and campaign money.  No one is Washington will allow for that.  That is why it is an unrealistic idea.

  • avatar

    why is the E in Revolution a Chinese Hexagram? reminds me of when the pompous bastards announced discontinuing Green on St Patrick’s Day in 2002.

    • 0 avatar

      Reminds me of three red negative signs just waiting to be  used in the balance sheet…

      by the way, the whole
      “they use my money via the government to get more money from me via the government”
      would be sublimely funny if it didn’t hurt so much in the wallet…

  • avatar
    Andy D

    I was almost afraid to click on “read more”. Yup, same ‘ol’  same ol’. Nothing has changed.  Why do you think so many were against  the bailouts?   Trillions in the wind and the SOBs  whose greed caused this mess are reaping  the reward.

    • 0 avatar

      And the more time that goes by, these SOB’s will be so far down the trail that no SEC or Justice possee will bother going after them to recover the loot … and chance for punishment, restitution, deterance and revision will be lost…

  • avatar

    GM defenders, where art thou?  Would LOVE to hear the justification for this, although the meme of “other industries do it” above is probably their line.
    I call bs.  Other than  diversion of funds that ought to go into the futile effort to actually make GM a profitable company, calling other industries out for the same anti-taxpayer behavior sounds more like an excuse.  “Other guys do it, so it’s okay if we do.”
    I’m 38, but I do remember a time when business was a meritocracy.  Sadly, we’re pretty far down a rat hole where “too big to fail” literally translates to “you can’t fail and the taxpayers will pay for your incompetent decisions”.  In other words, no accountability.
    Lest anyone thinks this is an anti-Obama rant, rest assured this crap has been going on for some time under Bushes and Clinton.  Obama is simply the most recent version of a president turning his back on taxpayer interests.  The only difference between Obama and his last few predecessors is that Obama ran on cleaning up this type of crap.  Those that voted for him would be wise to use those grass roots connections to remind him of it.

    • 0 avatar

      Here, here. I wasn’t excusing GM by bringing up what should be obvious. I simply find it offensive that some act as if this is an Obama specific failing and that previous admins and congress are blameless for this s***. That being said, I think this is the posterchild for Lobby abuses on Capitol Hill and have done everything I can at my level to tell my Congresspeople what I think of it. And like my politicians, they will politely tell me thank you and continue the graft like a good Democracy that claims free market should.

  • avatar

    I’m 38, but I do remember a time when business was a meritocracy.
    Business was never really a meritocracy, unless you define “merit” in terms of ability to bend the marketplace to your will, in which case larger and wealthier entities certainly had more of it.
    GM, like it or not, is still huge.  So are the banks.  So are many firms.  Given that, they’ll always be able to warp things to their liking.   There’s not a lot you can do about this, and it’s been the case ever since Ug figured he could pay Og and Slog extra mastedon meat to hit Urg over the head with a club.

  • avatar

    The big difference between GM and a defense contractor is that the government is a majority owner of GM.  So the government is allocating funds to lobby itself.

  • avatar

    Ah so now they are using our money against us to further their own interests. I’m shocked! The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  • avatar

    This is normal operating procedure for most if not all major corporations that strive  to operate in the best interests of the company. This constant GM bashing is getting really old.

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