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The ‘lobbyist’ is dead; Long live the ‘government relations professional’

By Dave Levinthal, Center for Public Integrity capitolcash

The lobbyist, like Philip MorrisValuJet and the World Wrestling Federation before him, died today.

He was 150 years old, give or take a decade, the victim of relentless pejorativation and transmogrification. Naysayers who believed he too often abused the right to petition his government for a redress of grievances hastened his demise.

The lobbyist’s heyday arrived during the 2000s. He found himself in the black riding on a smile and shoeshine as the federal government ballooned, congressional earmarks proliferated and two overseas wars required the unmitigated services of defense contractors. He worked for everyone — tree huggers and coal miners, churches and states, peaceniks and warmongers.

By 2010, he earned $3.55 billion in Washington, D.C., alone — more than ever before.

But the lobbyist felt infirmity’s creep.

The government sometimes tossed him in jail. His friends in Congress stopped offering him food and drink. The president shunned him, giving him no work or shelter. Lifeblood bled from his pockets with alarming volume.

There, on the shingles above his mightiest redoubts — Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld;Brownstein Hyatt Farber SchreckCassidy & Associates, the Podesta Group — the lobbyist’s moniker had been relegated or removed. Often in its place: “federal affairs professional,” “strategic communications professional,” “advocate,” “adviser.”

During his final days, however, the lobbyist filled himself with hope for life anew.

An old lobbyist never dies, he reasoned. He just changes his name.

Official pronouncement of the lobbyist’s death came today at the Washington Court Hotel during the annual meeting of the American League of Lobbyists, henceforth known as the Association of Government Relations Professionals.

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