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September 17, 2014

K Streeters Downplay Their Influence on Reddit

Two D.C.-based lobbyists bore down on their keyboards Wednesday, telling Redditors in their “Ask Me Anything” that lobbyists are people, too.

In a rare occurrence, K Streeters Jack Quinn and John Feehery of  QGA Public Affairs came to Reddit — a site not known for its appreciation of corporate or special interests —with open arms.

AMAs are fast becoming the Internet equivalent of stump speeches for politicians, but K Street’s presence on Reddit is a novelty. The post received modest attention per Reddit standards, but still garnered more than 100 comments.

The top comment went straight to the heart of the issue: money, and what place it should have in government.

“Money has been part of politics since Plato,” Feehery responded. “My big question has been and continues to be, ‘do the voters know who is writing these checks and what the check-writers expect to get out of their contributions?’”

But Quinn had no issue saying money is a problem and he even suggested restricting lobbyists’ ability to donate to political campaigns.

“Some would say [money in politics] has reached the point of being a cancer on our democracy,” he wrote. “The best way to address that would be to prohibit campaign contributions from registered lobbyists or from the clients who hire lobbyists made to members of Congress who sit on the committees with jurisdiction over the subject matter of their lobbying.”

Another user complained that special interest groups can hold sway over the majority because of lobbying.

“How do you feel about the public’s disdain for lobbyists for attempting to influence policy in a way that the public itself may or may not agree with at large?” user Dsvkb asked.

Feehery acknowledged the low regard people can have for his industry, but he downplayed the influence it has on politicians.

“I don’t think that politicians are under the sway of lobbyists,” he said. “I think most politicians listen closely to what their constituents want because that is what gets them re-elected.”

Quinn, however, argued that lobbyists are just the middlemen and the responsibility to make good judgments falls on politicians.

The pair ended up answering many questions throughout the AMA on topics ranging from their favorite D.C. cafes to their work life to their opinion of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews.

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