Two years ago, I took a screen shot and saved a tidbit from Duffield’s now-deleted consulting website. Duffield’s firm, still lobbying and called Endgame Strategies, was quite candid in it’s pitch to potential corporate clients to use “backbench Senate Republicans” to block legislation (emphasis added):
Managing Holds and Filibusters. Your organization has an interest in a bill that has proven controversial and you require advocacy before those legislators—often backbench Senate Republicans—who may exercise their prerogatives to delay or obstruct. Endgame Strategies will give you new ways to manage your interests in a legislative environment that gives great power to individual senators.
Duffield, a former Senate aide to Arizona Republican Jon Kyl, literally sold filibusters, anonymous holds and the other forms of obstruction. In 2011, he reported at least $230,000 in lobbying fees. Current rules allow a senator to secretly block any legislation or nominee and then, without actually performing a talking filibuster, require a three-fifths majority vote—twice—to proceed eventually with a regular majority vote, a process ripe for abuse by well-connected political operators of both parties.
I’ve detailed before how lobbyists, even agents for foreign governments, have secured Republican filibusters at a shocking rate. The cottage industry around monetizing filibusters has grown rapidly since Obama’s first election. From 2009 to 2010, there were more filibusters filed than during the 1950s through 1960s combined, as The Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel observed.
The interesting dynamic for me is, how money in politics has incentivized this contraction of democratic governance. Here are just a few examples of how powerful industries have usurped the normal gears of government, and used Senate obstruction to push policies that punish ordinary Americans and the environment:
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