by Pascal Robert
The truth is more evil than Netflix fiction. Staffers at the Congressional Black Caucus – doubtless mimicking the morals of their elected bosses – eventually formed their own mercenary lobbying structures to sell out the interests of African Americans. Their principal clients are “those same financial institutions and corporations that caused the Black community to be targeted during the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.”
Thanks to the Congressional Black Caucus “Remy” from “House of Cards” is Real
by Pascal Robert
“These Black lobbyists leverage not only the ‘moral authority’ of the CBC, but the historical weight of its perceived ties to Civil Rights Movement.”
The Netflix series “House of Cards” is a popular political intrigue drama based around a character named Frank Underwood who starts his rise up the political food chain as the “whip” in the House of Representatives. Underwood engages in diabolical schemes to consolidate his power and influence. He’s driven by ego and aspiration, letting nothing in the way of his plots to control. Underwood and his icy cold wife Claire leave a trail of human carnage as they climb the career ladder.
One of the most deceitful and devious characters on the series is the African American lobbyist named “Remy Danton.” Remy wields the financial war chest of his employer “Sandcorp,” a powerful energy conglomerate, to make demands on Underwood and engage in a cat and mouse of mutual manipulation. The irony is that the Black lobbyist Remy got his political start working as a staffer in Congressman Frank Underwood’s office for eight years.
The idea of a Black lobbyist working with such merciless dedication to a corporate paymaster like the socially repugnant energy conglomerate “Sandcorp” might seem far fetched to some. But thanks to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), its former staffers have entered into the world of K street lobbying. These Black lobbyists leverage not only the “moral authority” of the CBC, but the historical weight of its perceived ties to Civil Rights Movement to protect the interests of those same financial institutions and corporations that caused the Black community to be targeted during the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis. We can’t imagine the other pernicious corporate forces these Black lobbyists might take on. Such clients surely do untold damage not only to people of color, but all Americans. What makes these characters troubling is not so much their race – deviousness and greed aren’t limited by skin color – it’s their ability to pimp out the Civil Rights Movement through its perceived connection to the CBC.
From this revealing article we learn:
“About a decade after the CBC's 1971 founding, some 20 black lobbyists started holding informal gatherings around Washington. The Civil Rights movement had ushered more African-Americans into Congress, and those lawmakers brought black staffers with them. Many of them, like former staffers all over Capitol Hill, wound up on K Street.
“The CBC had always focused on social justice, but the lobbyists -- who eventually named themselves the Second Wednesday Group -- had more prosaic aims. ‘It was just a networking group of African-American lobbyists, to maybe be an inspiration for African-American lobbyists entering the lobbying field,’ says David Warr of the International Trademark Association, who ran the organization in the 1990s. Over time, it built a vibrant community of black lobbyists and Hill staffers.
“Today, the organization – now known as the Washington Government Relations Group – is a significant nexus of influence. At its regular policy gatherings, lobbyists can interact with lawmakers and staffers. Last year's annual gala was held at the French Embassy.”
“Pimping out the Civil Rights Movement.”
So during the 1980’s, at a time when the Reagan administration was decimating poor Black and Brown communities with vicious policy initiatives, a group of former Black CBC staffers turned lobbyists, created the Washington Government Relations Group. Clearly the organization helped facilitate co-operation between these corporate hired gun lobbyists to further their goals of representing the interests of the 1% in Congress.
The Washington Government Relations Group’s website states:
“The Washington Government Relations Group (WGRG) is the premier organization dedicated to the enrichment of African-American government relations professionals. As a non-partisan, independent, volunteer association our members represent a diverse cross section of corporations, financial institutions, law firms, trade associations and non-profit organizations on various policy matters in the state, federal, and international arena. This organization seeks to increase dialogue between our members and key senior-level policy makers in order to help shape the development of superior and well-vetted public policy solutions.”
For years people in the Black community have argued that a major political weakness was the inability of Blacks to develop a cadre of lobbyists advocating for the interests of Black people. In truth, Black America has a very effective group of lobbyists already in existence. The irony is that they lobby for the interests of the financial and corporate institutions that have been ravaging the Black community for decades.
The success of this army of “Remys” is illustrated by members of the Congressional Black Caucus trying to weaken the already tepid Dodd-Frank legislation. Dodd-Frank was put in place to insure the subprime mortgage meltdown that evaporated untold amounts of wealth, particularly among African Americans would be avoided in the future. That members of the Congressional Black Caucus are openly leveraging their moral authority, gained by a legacy of Black struggle, to protect the very institutions that continue to harm the Black community explains why this political establishment is best referred to as the Black Misleadership Class.
“They lobby for the interests of the financial and corporate institutions that have been ravaging the Black community for decades.”
According to this article, in 2013, thanks to the assistance of members of the Congressional Black Caucus, the House of Representatives actually approved a measure opposed by many Democrats, that would weaken Dodd-Frank:
“By contrast, the Congressional Black Caucus, a typically robust nexus of progressive strength in the House, has urged its members to back a weakening of Dodd-Frank's derivatives measures. Some cosponsors of such legislation, including Reps. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and David Scott (D-Ga.), are members of the caucus, and the group's chair, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), has penned a separate bill deregulating other aspects of the derivatives market. Her bill wasn't voted on Wednesday. The group urged its members to vote for three of the four bills considered Wednesday, though it did not take a position on the overseas measure.”
One would think the Congressional Black Caucus would avoid actions that harm its constituency. In reality, such betrayal is normal for the CBC. From policies such as opposing Net Neutrality, which threatens the current open internet, to Mass Incarceration, the CBC has used its influence to protect well financed interests that consistently prey on the Black community. This should not be surprising since for over 30 years Black Staffers from the CBC have turned into the Remy Dantons of the world only to lobby the Black Caucus and other Congressmen on behalf of these traditionally damaging forces.
“Such betrayal is normal for the CBC.”
As the article cited above mentions:
“The CBC represents roughly 10 percent of the House and about a fifth of the Democratic minority. That alone makes it an attractive target for lobbyists. But two characteristics have helped it amass particular power. Its aura of moral credibility, earned during the civil rights era, can provide valuable progressive cover for controversial measures. And its tradition of voting as a bloc, forged in its early years to avoid marginalization, means that persuading the right CBC member can secure dozens of additional votes.
“However, as one bank lobbyist put it, ‘Sophisticated companies have sophisticated lobbying operations.’ He explains, ‘Almost every big bank has a lobbyist who has experience and can work with the Congressional Black Caucus.’ The industry's term for these lobbyists: CBC specialists. (It's a term that grates on black lobbyists, because nearly all of them do more than merely lobby the CBC.) And by targeting the 10 CBC members who sit on the financial services panel, these lobbyists can potentially win over the entire caucus. ‘We defer to them for advice,’ Marcia Fudge, the CBC's chairwoman, says of the members on the committee. ‘We don't really talk about [financial issues] in the [weekly lunch] meetings at all ... It's not an issue that's of grave importance to the caucus. We know that we have people on the committee that we trust.’"
This is how diversity and multiculturalism are leveraged in post Civil Rights America. The blood of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., who both died warning against the excesses of the free market, paved the way for legions of Black lobbyists, decade after decade, to advocate for the most pernicious corporate forces under the guise of “fulfilling the dream.” Therefore, the dream for an elite segment of the Black community came true by making sure the majority kept living a nightmare. Shouldn’t we all be proud? The Remy Dantons of the world are doing their job quite well.
Pascal Robert is an Iconoclastic Haitian American Lawyer, Blogger, and Online Activist for Haiti. For years his work appeared under the Blog Thought Merchant: http://thoughtmerchant.wordpress.com/ You can also find his work on the Huffington Post here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pascal-robert/ He can be reached via twitter at https://twitter.com/probert06 @probert06 or [email protected].