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Check it out: Big salaries for Washington lobbyists

PhRMA's Billy Tauzin; the late Gene Upshaw of the NFL Players Association; Dan Glickman, formerly of the Motion Picture Association of America. (Mike Wintroath/AP; Chip Somodevilla/Reuters; Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The best-kept secrets in Washington aren't about sex, they're about salary. Which is why the annual compensation for lobbyists and interest groups -- detailed in the new issue of National Journal, primarily from 2008 filings -- is so intriguing.

  • Topping the list: Business Roundtable's John Castellani, who pulled in $4,373,723, followed by U.S. Chamber of Commerce head Tom Donohue with $3,731,380.
  • Former congressmen did very well for themselves: Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America paid outgoing head Billy Tauzin $2,907,732; Dan Glickman made $1,343,532 while at the Motion Picture Association of America; and Steve Largent got $1,173,298 from the Wireless Association.
  • Think tanks can't compete with big business: Aspen Institute's Walter Isaacson made $705,711, while Brookings Institution paid Strobe Talbott $412,500.
  • Worth noting: The NFL Players Association paid the late Eugene Upshaw $2,397,339. And Bobby Koch, brother-in-law of George W. Bush, made $1,100,000 from the Wine Institute.

  • By The Reliable Source  |  April 2, 2010; 1:01 AM ET
    Categories:  Politics  
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    If the government was not involved, in a major way, in almost every industry, there would not be a need for lobbyists. I read somewhere that one notable exception was veterinary medicine -- the government is not yet interested in regulating veterinary medicine, so there are no lobbyists employed to influence government policy toward veterinary medicine.

    Something for you to think about, if you were considering medical school.

    Posted by: JBaustian | April 2, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

    This is unexpected News? Or surprising? Or relevant? These guys are paid just like all the corporate top dogs -- ie OVERPAID. But while you're at it, why don't you list what all the TV and radio pundits make while they claim protecting the best interests of the middle class?? They're all millionaires without a single fear or anxiety in common with the rest of us -- they are cocooned in wealth and privilege, totally out of touch with everyday folks.

    Posted by: jcluma | April 2, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

    Personally I think it is an obscenity for anyone to be paid so much money for anything while people are homeless, hungry, dying for lack of health care. I don't know how some people can sleep at night.

    Posted by: greeenmtns | April 2, 2010 9:48 PM | Report abuse

    "NOTE" the year {2008} who was the president??????? Now just watch FAUX and you will be told all problems started Jan. 20, 2009. Some fools even believe them.

    Posted by: SWAMPYPD | April 2, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

    all the lobbyist are nothing but crooked people buying votes from congress to push thru their agenda' should be illegal what they do...never mind the pay they get to do it....sickens me and many Americans....

    Posted by: galario | April 5, 2010 7:25 AM | Report abuse

    JBaustian encapsulates the entire problem in a paragraph. Government has been permitted to encroach into every aspect of our lives, and especially of our commerce, to the point that nearly every lucrative industry sees its interest in tryig to sway public policy to its own advantage.

    Another way of saying this is that when government is involved in everything, LOTS of people have a reason to try to bribe government officials... because "swaying" Congressmen with campaign contributions (or with tacit promises of lucrative employment upon their retirement from Congress) is precisely that: bribery, corruption.

    In our world of Big Mommy government, getting regulators one one's side is often an easier way to make a buck than producing a quality product at a reasonable price.

    This cannot be resolved by passing ethics laws, or by publically-financed campaigns, or any other superficial prophylactic measure. As long as Congressmen have something buyers want or need this much, their price will be found, and they will sell it.

    The only real solution is a hard one for some folks to swallow: reduce government to its essential functions: maintaining the rule of law (including environmental law... nobody has the right to poison the air and water everyone needs for life), and defending the country... but beyond that, quit looking to the government to regulate and control and make utterly safe every commodity and every human undertaking.

    Government is not eloquence or persuasion or reason. Government is FORCE. It should be, like other applications of violence, or the threat of violence, the last recourse for solving a problem, not the first.

    Posted by: Iconoblaster | April 5, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

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