Image - the speaker and a detail from his book cover
San Francisco

Brody Mullins: The Secret History of How Big Money Took Over Big Government

In-person TicketsOnline-only Tickets

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On K Street, a few blocks from the White House, you’ll find the offices of some of the most powerful people in Washington. In the 1970s, the city’s center of gravity began to shift away from elected officials in big marble buildings to a handful of savvy, handsomely paid operators who didn’t answer to any fixed constituency.

The cigar-chomping son of a powerful Congressman, an illustrious political fixer with a weakness for modern art, a Watergate-era dirty trickster, the city’s favorite cocktail party host—these were the sorts of people who now ran Washington. Investigative journalist Brody Mullins, working with Luke Mullins, says that over four decades, these lobbyists would chart new ways to turn their clients’ cash into political leverage, abandoning favor-trading in smoke-filled rooms for increasingly sophisticated tactics like “shadow lobbying,” where underground campaigns sparked seemingly organic public outcries to pressure lawmakers into taking actions that would ultimately benefit corporate interests rather than the common good. With billions of dollars at play, these lobbying dynasties enshrined in Washington a pro-business consensus that would guide the country’s political leaders—Democrats and Republicans alike—allowing companies to flourish even as ordinary Americans faced stagnant wages, astronomical drug prices, unsafe home loans and digital monopolies. A good lobbyist could kill even a piece of legislation supported by the president, both houses of Congress, and a majority of Americans.

Yet, nothing lasts forever. Amidst a populist backlash to the soaring inequality these lobbyists helped usher in, this Washington alliance suddenly began to unravel. The Mullins say that while new ways for corporations to control the federal government would emerge, the men who’d once built K Street found themselves under legal scrutiny and on the verge of financial collapse. One had his namesake firm ripped away by his own colleagues. Another watched his business shut down altogether. One went to prison. And one was found dead behind the 18th green of an exclusive golf club, with a bottle of $1,500 wine at his feet and a bullet in his head.

Join us in-person or online to hear Brody Mullins sketch a dazzling portrait of 50 years of corporate influence in Washington, as laid out in the Mullins’ new book The Wolves of K Street. They trace the rise of the modern lobbying industry through the three dynasties—one Republican, two Democratic—that they say have enabled corporate interests to infiltrate American politics and undermine our democracy.

Notes

This program has 2 types of tickets available: in-person and online-only. Please pre-register to receive a link to the live-stream event.

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Photos courtesy the speakers.

All ticket sales are final and nonrefundable.

Wed, Jul 10 / 6:00 PM PDT

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Taube Family Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Speakers
Image - Brody Mullins

Brody Mullins

Investigative Reporter, The Wall Street Journal; Author, The Wolves of K Street: The Secret History of How Big Money Took Over Big Government; X @BrodyMullinsDC

Image - Kirsten Grind

In Conversation with Kirsten Grind

Tech Investigations Reporter, The New York Times; X @KirstenGrind

Format

5:30 p.m. doors open & check-in
6–7 p.m. program
7 p.m. book signing
(all times Pacific Time)

COST

Members receive 30–50 percent discounts (not a member? Join)

In-person:
$22 
$57 with a book
Online:
$10 
$45 with a book