The Wolves of K Street: The Secret History of How Big Money Took Over Big Government (Hardcover)

The Wolves of K Street: The Secret History of How Big Money Took Over Big Government By Brody Mullins, Luke Mullins Cover Image
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Two veteran investigative journalists trace the rise of the modern lobbying industry through the three dynasties—one Republican, two Democratic—that have enabled corporate interests to infiltrate American politics and undermine our democracy.

On K Street, a few blocks from the White House, you’ll find the offices of the most powerful men 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 men who now ran Washington. Over four decades, they’d 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 buckled under the weight of 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, Washington’s pro-business alliance suddenly began to unravel. And 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.

A dazzling and infuriating portrait of fifty years of corporate influence in Washington, The Wolves of K Street is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction—irresistibly dramatic, spectacularly timely, explosive in its revelations, and absolutely impossible to put down.

About the Author

Brody Mullins is an investigative reporter in the Washington, DC, bureau of The Wall Street Journal, where he covers business, lobbying, and campaign finance. He was part of the team that won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for revealing financial conflicts of interest among officials at fifty federal agencies who bought and sold stocks of companies they were tasked with regulating.

Luke Mullins is a contributing writer at POLITICO magazine, where he covers the people and institutions that control Washington’s levers of power. He has been a senior writer at Washingtonian magazine, and he’s also written for The AtlanticEsquire, and Mother Jones, among other publications. 


Praise For…

“If you want to understand how American democracy went off the rails, all you need to do is read this book. The Mullins brothers have captured the entire crazy saga, and they’ve come with the receipts to prove that it’s all true. A shockingly detailed look inside the secretive industry that shapes our democracy for the highest bidder, this epic feat of investigative reporting will be required reading for years to come.”
—Christopher Leonard, New York Times bestselling author of The Lords of Easy Money

“However nefarious you think the lobbying industry is in Washington, Brody and Luke Mullins have news: It’s worse. Not even during the Roaring Twenties and the Gilded Age did corporate American wield so much influence, fueling the rise of the populist right and the progressive left, of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. In their deeply reported, compelling new book, the Mullins brothers track how that happened, and the disastrous consequences.”
—Susan Page, New York Times bestselling author of The Matriarch

“This book begins with a mysterious dead body and ends with what deserves to be the death of the malevolent influence of Washington's K Street lobbying firms. But like cockroaches, lobbyists scurry away and multiply. A vivid, brilliantly told tale that unfolds like a novel, this is the most potent portrait of the Washington swamp you will read.”
—Ken Auletta, New York Times bestselling author of Googled

“This is nothing less than the definitive history of how corporate lobbyists took over Washington. With deep reporting, an eye for revealing anecdotes, and compelling characters, the Mullins brothers have brought us the story of how Washington really works?—and for whom.”
—Jonathan Martin, New York Times bestselling co-author of This Will Not Pass

“This page-turner tells the sordid story about how, over the course of half a century, an ever-growing cohort of bipartisan political hustlers figured out that they could preside over the arranged marriage of corporate money and American politics... for a hefty commission. The Mullins brothers promise to untangle the intricate — and ultimately, pathetic — story of the selling of the American republic, and they have succeeded brilliantly.”
—Duff McDonald, author of Last Man Standing and Tickled

“A fast-paced deep dive into a world of greed and ambition, inhabited by a uniquely fascinating group of wheelers and dealers. The Wolves of K Street is a history of not only how money and power have influenced American politics, but how the work of lobbyists touches the lives of every American.”
—Kate Andersen Brower, New York Times bestselling author of The Residence

Product Details
ISBN: 9781982120597
ISBN-10: 1982120592
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: May 7th, 2024
Pages: 624
Language: English