Once an idealist, ten years in Washington turned ex-Biden staff member Jeff Connaughton into a self-described “highly ambitious, Washington insider seeking personal gain.” He was a Professional Democrat, earning thousands of dollars in the private market while positioning himself to climb the career ladder — that is until he went to work as chief of staff for Delaware senator Ted Kaufman, also a former ex-Biden staff member. The two agreed to embark on an unheard of experiment in principled legislating, gaining the admiration of the media but accomplishing very little, since that’s just not how things get done in Washington. Connaughton’s new book, The Payoff: Why Wall Street Always Wins, describes in painful detail some of the lessons he’s learned, namely how leaders in both parties conspire to oppose attempts at regulating Wall Street. It’s a book that’s burned every bridge he once had in Washington — and it’s well worth the read.

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