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The $4 Million Freedom Prize

For all you hardened Washington insiders out there who think it takes an army of lobbyists and consultants to get something done in this town, well, you’re usually right. But today a couple of business guys showed that a good idea and some shoe leather salesmanship can work just as well.

Three years ago, two executives, Jack Hidary and Josh Becker, came to Washington to lobby Congress to fund a cash prize that would reward efforts to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. And the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was just days away from congressional completion.

“People said there is no way we can get it done and we were told that by many, many people, experienced Hill people,” Becker said.

Still, the two were able to meet with the staffs of the four top negotiators on the bill: Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and John Dingell (D-Mich.).

Then, in a move every good Washington lobbyist and reporter would appreciate, the duo stood outside the conference committee meeting room and buttonholed each of the four members on their way in and out.

Their efforts were rewarded today when the Energy Department and the Freedom Prize Foundation announced the Freedom Prize, a more than $4 million pot of loot that will reward the military, industries, schools, governments and communities that effectively deploy strategies to reduce oil consumption.
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