Gold Rush for Lobbyists

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Reform may be in the air, but the Sunlight Foundation has a new report noting that nearly 1,700 new clients have signed up with lobbying firms in DC in the first quarter of 2009. Sunlight describes their initial findings as a “first pass” at scrutinizing a database of lobbying registrations.

Of particular interest:

Our first pass at a database of the registrations shows that some of the financial firms that have received funding under the Troubled Asset Relief Program including Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Goldman Sachs and Fifth Third Bank have hired new firms to represent them in Washington.

It’s not clear from the posting whether Sunlight has the investigative capacity to go much deeper—though almost certainly the outfit will be back with further insights. Even without much more reporting, it would be nice to have a few basic contextual elements, such as:

-What is the significance of this flurry of sign-ups?

-Is it indicative of something, and if so, what?

-How does it compare with the number of sign-ups at the time George W. Bush entered office?

-Which lobbying firms are getting the business, and why? (for some added perspective, see our Real News Project report on Democratic lobbying firms, their connections and clients.)

Where else do you see journalism of this quality and value?

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