Washington, D.C. Feature
D.C.'s Party Animals: Lobbyists
Though currently plentiful, the lobbyist is a threatened species in Washington. Ironically, recent legislation and public awareness of the species have only deepened its endangerment.
Lobbyists may look familiar to New Yorkers, due to their marked resemblance to investment bankers (the latter are extremely rare in Washington). Easy to identify by custom-made suits, stylish haircuts, and the occasional suspender or cigar (males only), they are distinguishable from lawyers by their habit of picking up the check and by the gaggle of out-of-towners that they often escort. Be warned: They are also exceptionally friendly and good at engaging in conversations with strangers.
Studies of lobbyists' expense reports indicate a particularly voracious appetite, heavy on red meat, sushi, whiskey, and fine wine. It is interesting to note, however, that lobbyists take virtually all their meals in restaurants, and thus have a limited ability to find food on their own; without an expense account, the lobbyist may starve.
The lobbyist's habitat is shrinking rapidly and is a source of some concern. Washington lobbyists are native only to K Street, but in recent years their normal range had extended to the Capitol, with a vast migratory range encompassing Scottish golf courses, Mississippi casinos, and the Mariana Islands. As pressure increases on the species, it is being driven back to K Street, but can still be reliably spotted at Charlie Palmer, Sonoma, Bistro Bis, Central, The Source, and Capital Grille. Follow the sommelier.
Lobbyists coexist symbiotically with legislators, each reliant on the other for protection and sustenance. Thus, the two species are often spotted together: the lobbyist feeding the legislator with food, trips, and campaign cash, the legislator reciprocating with spending bills and business-friendly rhetoric. In such company, the lobbyist is at its most resplendent—charming and expansive. When alone or with members of their own species, however, lobbyists can be gruff and temperamental. Watch for them on cell phones in expensive restaurants.
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