The mentions of ‘K Street’ in many political Hollywood films in the past decade are uncountable. It is so known for being the home of all lobbying firms that it over the years became a ‘must-visit’ for every foreign leader coming to Washington DC.
For decades, hostile world powers were assured that if they went for ‘consultancy’ to US congress via K street, the chances of the Justice Department ever going after them was slim to none.
But that all changed on Monday. Because after the indictment of Paul Manafort, that same evening Tony Podesta (pictured), the Democrat super-lobbyist, decided it would be best to step down from the company that carries his name.
And so, as they say, something is now rotten in K Street. Lobbying firms are watching with great anguish the downfall of the Podesta brothers and the charges against Paul Manafort. On both sides of the political aisle there will surely be victims after special counsel Robert Mueller is done.
This also means that firms are going to be more selective as to who they can represent. Politico spoke to firms in K Street representing groups from Syria and Saudi Arabia trying to influence US politics, and they admitted that this week has been a game changer for them.
Mr Trent Lott, the former Senate Majority leader who now works at Squire Patton Boggs admitted that “firms are going to be even more careful than they have been in the past in the foreign lobbying arena.” His company represented both Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Lobbying firms are also going to have to know who is underneath the non-profit groups that contact them. In the case of the company that hired the Podesta Group and Mercury, the Ukrainian Ex-President with strong ties to the Kremlin was hidden, and this is now coming back to haunt them.
“You need to know who you’re representing, and sometimes it’s kind of shrouded,” Mr Lott admitted.
The fact that a disgraced politician as Mr Lott (he was asked to step down after a political scandal in 2003) who represented both Democrats and Republicans during his time in the Senate was able to immediately switch to K Street and hang on to a job there for the next 14 years also says a lot about the moral cloud hanging over Washington DC.
As Mr Trump said, it’s time to drain the swamp. K Street knows that Justice is now coming for them.