Regulatory Capture is the idea that powerful interests co-opt the regulatory agencies assigned to police them. Instead of an adversarial relationship, a clubby friendship results.
The public gets stuck with uncompetitive practices written into law and reform turned into a byword for legalizing shady practices. Too often, the cycle is kept going by the promise of lucrative positions in private industry for the same government bureaucrats that are supposed to be on the public's team.
There are two GREAT detailed summaries of this concept in these print resources (both are located in the reference section on the main floor):