I live in Washington, D.C., also known as “the swamp.” The restaurants are pretty good and the Metro isn’t as bad as people say it is. The inequality and homelessness is staggering and it’s very segregated, just like most big American cities. And, of course, the government is the single biggest employer, with entire industries in its orbit: lobbying, advocacy, consulting.
There’s plenty of journalism out there that exposes how Washington works—from overly-influential donations to think tanks to deceptive lobbying campaigns to cozy dinners with journalists and politicians. But reporting can usually only expose individual cases of shady shit in Washington, and all the other political operatives can shake their heads and say, How terrible, we would never do such a thing—until a journalist finds out that, duh, of course they do it, too. And, thanks to our insane laws that make public disclosure of lobbying activity and nonprofit donations very weak, it’s very hard to unearth this sort of information.
So, much of what happens in D.C. remains a secret, and the systems in place remain unknown to most people in the country.
We want to change that.
If you work in government or politics in D.C., we want to talk to you. We will give you anonymity, and keep your employer’s identity secret if you like, to tell us exactly how this town works. How does a fundraising call with a donor go down? Does money actually buy access or influence? How much do lobbyists really spend on those steak dinners we’ve all heard about?
We’re looking for people who work in:
- Lobbying, including people who work at lobbying firms but aren’t registered lobbyists
- PR firms, particularly if you work on lobbying and advocacy campaigns
- Non-campaign election organizations, including superPACs and 527s
- Political advertising
- Actual government: Congress, the White House, cabinet agencies
- Think tanks
- Advocacy groups and non-profits (including those that represent businesses, like the Chamber of Commerce)
If you or someone you know wants to talk, my email is email@example.com. If it’s extra-sensitive, here’s how to contact us using SecureDrop (direct your message to me). And as always, you can email our tip line at firstname.lastname@example.org.