Green’s Dictionary of Slang

wire-puller n.1

also wire-worker
[pull wires under wire n.1 ]

a person who exerts influence or manipulates, esp. in politics.

[US]Boston Transcript 24 Jan. 2/1: Every thing went on swimmingly, till it occurred to the ‘wire pullers’ to hand round the hat, for the purpose of obtaining the wherewith to defray contingent expenses [DA].
[US]N.Y. Mirror 5 June n.p.: Philadelphia... is filled with wire-pullers, public opinion manufacturers, embryo cabinet officers, future ambassadors, and the whole brood of political make-shifts [F&H].
[US]Lewisburg Chron. (PA) 4 Jan. 7/3: Wire-pulling aids work, sub rosa.
National Intelligencer 20 Sept. n.p.: The wire-workers in convention had a deep interest in a particular suit at law, to which their candidate was pledged to give a judgment in their favor, in case of being the judge [F&H].
[US]G.W. Whitman in Civil War Letters 16 Aug. 102: Gov Seymour and a few more of the wire pullers.
[UK]J. Hatton Cruel London I 266: The founders and wire-pullers of the Syndicate.
[UK]Bristol Magpie 2 Nov. 3/1: One good wholesome lesson was brought forcibly home to the party wire pullers by the late elections.
[Aus]Sydney Sl. Dict. (2 edn) 11: Wire-pullers - Powerful political partizans who do their work from ‘behind the scenes’.
[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Mar. 22/3: He is by no means lavish of largesse, as was the ‘fine old Tory gentleman’ in the ‘fine old Tory song;’ nor is he personally beloved by any of the wire-pullers of the party. The fact is that Lady Wilson, who is the better horse of the pair, is the ‘power behind the throne.’.
Century Mag. (N.Y.) Mar. 791/2: The choice of a Senate [...] can generally be fixed by wire-pullers in advance [DA].
[UK]J. Newman Scamping Tricks 117: Surely it is better to have a contractor who knows what work is [...] than one who knows next to nothing about construction, and is financed by some loan-monger, or is at the mercy of some wire-puller.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 96: Wire Pullers, powerful political partisans who do their work like hidden springs ‘behind the scenes’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 11 Feb. 1/1: The condemner of cagmag is exposed equally to stoush of the wrath of wirepullers.
[UK]M. Forrest Hibiscus Heart 242: Every now and then some political wirepuller [...] will have a go at setting him free.
[US]B. Appel Power-House 252: Murph the heel, Murph the yellowbelly, the big wire-puller!
[Aus](con. 1936–46) K.S. Prichard Winged Seeds (1984) 266: Can’t y’ see now, missus, what the wire-pullers are up to? [...] They want to switch the war.