The Business of K Street: Peddling Influence

Today, lobbying is a multi-billion dollar sophisticated industry with tremendous leverage over public debate and policymaking. But since the close of the Civil War, revelations of indiscretion and corruption among the influence peddlers roaming the halls of Congress have shaded the public’s opinion of the profession, casting both suspicion and demands for reform, as illustrated in the 20th century articles below.

August 22, 1936 Saturday Evening Post Article
August 22, 1936

The Lobby Episode

In 1936, when the House of Representatives failed to pass a much-touted bill requiring lobbyists to account for their receipts and expenditures, this Post editorial had its own ideas about how to best handle the abuse from K Street.

October 10, 1936 Saturday Evening Post Article
October 10, 1936

Washington’s Hardiest Perennial: The Lobby

In 1936, Post writer Edwin Lefèvre tackled the problem of defining lobbyists, the nitty gritty details on how they influence legislators, and why we inevitably need them in Washington.

March 6, 1948 Saturday Evening Post Article
March 6, 1948

Wild Lobbyists I Have Known

This humorous piece, written in 1948 by columnist Frederick C. Othman, takes a not-so-subtle jab at the antics of Washington lobbyists and paints a surprising picture of lobbying groups you may not have even known existed.

December 23, 1950 Saturday Evening Post Article
December 23, 1950

All-Time Champ of the Lobbyists

“The quickest way to a man’s Aye is through his stomach,” said post-Civil War lobbyist and gourmand Sam Ward (at left), known as “King of the Lobby” to his contemporaries. This profile of Ward from 1950 Post editor Beverly Smith deconstructs the life of the “King,” a man who entertained legislators with decadent dinner parties, bribed an emperor with poetry, and fooled Lincoln biographers for 69 years.