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So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government
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So Damn Much Money: The Triumph of Lobbying and the Corrosion of American Government

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  218 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
With a New Foreword

In So Damn Much Money, veteran Washington Post editor and correspondent Robert Kaiser gives a detailed account of how the boom in political lobbying since the 1970s has shaped American politics by empowering special interests, undermining effective legislation, and discouraging the country’s best citizens from serving in office. Kaiser traces this dramat
Paperback, 432 pages
Published February 9th 2010 by Vintage (first published 2009)
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I add as a disclaimer that I saw Bob Kaiser last month. Everybody in DC was a hot sweaty mess due to the heat wave then, but he was still as clear, patient, and inquisitive as ever. When he coughed into his microphone, the whole room jumped.

This book has two main topics. The first is a biography of Gerald Cassidy, founder of Cassidy and Associates, the first modern lobbying firm to use earmarks. The second is a history of lobbying in America, with brief hints on its early roots but also its mode
Sep 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
I don't want to give the impression that my two-star rating means that I disagree with the author's point of view, as with so many "reviews" of political books. Kaiser tells the detailed story of how money came to so thoroughly dominate the U.S. Congress, and there's not much editorializing to be had here, just sad facts that anyone who follows political history is probably already somewhat aware of. It's a thorough portrait of how the government used to conduct its business, how downright greed ...more
Traces the rise of lobbying in D.C. through an in depth profile of Cassidy & Associates and a bigger picture analysis of trends.
The Cassidy narrative I didn't find particularly interesting.
But I thought the author did an excellent job describing factors that led to the massive increase in the scale of lobbying (~post 1970): the greater scope of the Federal government (more parties/industries are affected), complicated nature of modern legislation (easy to slip in an earmark), the "permanen
Oct 04, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010
Amazing book on how money has come to dominate politics in Washington. The books tracks the rise and fall of a young law school graduate who started his law career representing farm workers but ended up head of the biggest lobbying firm on K Street. After reading this book, I'd never look at politics the same way again.
Dec 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
An overview of the growth of lobbying in Washington and how it undermines effective government, told mainly through the story of rise of Cassidy and Associates, a powerful lobbying firm. There’s a huge difference between being Caesar’s wife, beyond all reproach, and an amoral mercenary willing to sell anything to the highest bidder, but it’s clear which direction our House and Senate are going. If I looked at each chapter on its own as an isolated incident, I don’t think it would be a big deal. ...more
Dave Lefevre
Sep 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political
This book uses the career of Gerry Cassidy, a lobbyist in Washington D.C. who created and ran the lucrative firm Cassidy and Associates. It is very "inside baseball" as has been mentioned in reviews here, but it is a very important story. Cassidy, a former aide of George McGovern who started his Washington career as a congressional aid interested in poverty and hunger, became rich off of the idea of getting earmarked funds for his clients.

The books follows the rise of the importance of money in
Apr 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A dear friend sent me this book so I felt compelled to read it, if for no other reason than to delve deeper into my friend's inner being. I'm not normally a non-fiction reader, but I read this one and found the last 40 years of my life redefined by what's been happening in Washington...nothing surprising! All my life it's been par for the course to believe those in Washington are taking the public trough as their own. Nothing I read here changed that score, but I did feel sadness when certain na ...more
Andy Oram
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Anyone who has followed American politics for a while knows the
outlines of the book's story, but the twists and turns have a lot to
teach us. Their are many villains in the book, but no one who had the
power to turn around the problem. Kaiser hands out blame to all sides
(Democrats and Republican, pollsters and campaign organizers,
lobbyists and aides) as even-handedly as the donors hand out money. I
don't buy every assertion Kaiser makes (for instance, did the turning
point in American politics reall
Washington Post
An informative and distressing guide to the lobbying culture and its hidden control of our politics.

“Washington, never immune from the fashions and enthusiasms of American society, absorbed and then reflected the spirit of the go-go years. Commercial and residential real estate boomed as downtown Washington spread to the east and west of the traditional business districts. New stores and restaurants catered to a wealthy clientele. A building boom of mansion-style suburban housing transformed lar
JP Higgins
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Found this book referenced in Lawrence Lessig's TED talk on "Fix Congress First" and Kindled it from curiosity. Now done, I feel thoroughly enlightened about the history of lobbying in the USA from colonial times to the present. Kaiser adeptly presents a candid and non-partisan exposé of "business as usual" in Washington DC. (Indeed, he makes it seem easy being non-partisan on this subject!) Kaiser has an effective facility with the abundance of research detail and its context, a swift pacing, a ...more
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Its mission was to show how the US congress changed from "money under the table" to bidding out the legislation in broad daylight. It accomplishes that task well. I learned a lot from the history in the book. I like its focus on a particular lobbyist firm. I like how it incorporates a lot of the federal government history as well. The book was very neutral in its views. It is a well-written book and worth your time.
Jan 15, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was interesting enough, but it wasn't great as I had expected it. Most of the informations and opinions had been already laid out by numerous of publications but there were few insights that cued me into few of the issues that came up in the past few days. Its interesting enough if you are into, and used to reading political/economical books if not it might be hard for you to finish or get into the book.
Ryan Mac
Jan 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-challenge
This was a well researched book about the increasing amount of money and lobbying in government. It focuses on one large lobbying firm, Cassidy and Associates, and their rise within Washington business circles. The book splits its coverage between background of the politics at the time and Cassidy's rise. Very enlightening but frustrating read at the same time. Everyone's out to make a buck and this book illustrates that very well.
Jul 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good book that describes the rise of lobbying in DC from the late 60s to today. It is both an engaging book of political history and also very saddening on how our government works. I don't yearn for the Big Government politicians of a previous era but they at least had principled beliefs. Today's DC only cares about power and the money that will help they retain power.
This was really an eye-opener for me. The main point for me was how much the cost of campaigning for public office has increased in the last 30 years or so, and the impacts this has had on how, and whether, our legislators legislate. The focus is on the U. S. Congress, but the problems probably apply equally to state government.
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic history of what we now know generally as 'lobbying' and 'earmarks'. The author is a 30-year+ veteran of the Washington Post and traces the evolution of D.C.'s lobbying culture from the 70s to the present. Very insightful look at how things got so bad and the mighty forces interested in maintaining the status quo.
Feb 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finance
the story is an important one though terribly depressing. the problem is that Kaiser drowns you in details and regrettably there is little narrative flow to hold your attention. he was more interesting when he told his story on Bill Moyers Journal.
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, nonfiction
Mainly focuses on one lobbyist, and is really hard to get into. The second half of the book is better, if you can make it through the first half. I should have stopped reading it, but I HATE not finishing books!
Joshua Woodbury
This book gives a history of lobbying in Washington, DC, and a history of the firm that changed lobbying by mastering earmarks. The incestuous relationship between lobbyists and legislators, and the frequency with which legislators now become lobbyists, is atrocious.
David Meeks
Nov 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a former lobbyist, reading this was like looking in the rear view mirror. Is it just me who was left with the impression that a great deal of what is wrong with Washington today can be laid at the feet of Newt Gingrich?
Apr 30, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting facts about earmarks and campaign finance history.

The writing style was just not enjoyable, I couldn't get into it, and finally gave up 3/4 of the way through.
Saw an interview of the author last night. It's the history of modern lobbying, earmarks, and the change in the culture of our elected officials since WWII.
Mar 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all citizens interested in gov.
If most voters read this book and votet their best interests and the best interests of the nation, the congress would change in 2010. Do we really want lthe congress to work with integerty?
Jan 20, 2011 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
"He was ripping off Indians." Oh, Abramoff.
Maureen Flatley
Jun 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The history of lobbying.....very, very interesting and not necessarily in the ways you might think.
Elaine Nelson
Just couldn't get into it. I'm fascinated by the topic, but this treatment was WAY too inside-baseball.
Ann Cardwell
I had to struggle with my rage while reading this book at how lobbyists have currupted our system of government.
Oct 08, 2010 rated it liked it
It was good. It supported my dislike of the modern political system, but I wish there was a way to fix it.
Jun 18, 2008 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Reading this one for work.
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Robert G. Kaiser is associate editor and senior correspondent of The Washington Post, where he has worked since 1963.

Kaiser began at The Washington Post as a summer intern while still a college student. He has served as a special correspondent in London (1964–67), a reporter on the city desk in Washington, D.C. (1967–69), foreign correspondent in Saigon (1969–70) and Moscow (1971–74). He returned
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