90th United States Congress

Lobbying has become a dirty word to many Americans. I know I find myself cursing lobbyists for the XL pipeline, the gun makers, coal, oil, and many others.

When it started it may have been a good thing. Today, not so much.

The history of lobbying in the United States is a chronicle of the rise of paid advocacy generally by special interests seeking favor in lawmaking bodies such as the United States Congress. While lobbying has usually been understood as activity by paid professionals to try to influence key legislators and executives, it has been around since the early days of the Republic, and affects every level of government from local municipal authorities to the federal government in Washington. In the nineteenth century, lobbying was mostly conducted at the state level, but in the twentieth century, there has been a marked rise in activity, particularly at the federal level in the past thirty years. While lobbying has generally been marked by controversy, there have been numerous court rulings protecting lobbying as free speech.”

Really? Free speech?

Is lobbying free speech? Or is it legal bribery?

In the Progressive Era from the 1880s to the 1920s, reformers frequently blamed lobbyists as corrupting politics.”

I think that lobbying has evolved to something the founders did not intend it to be.

Lobbyists, who used to focus on persuading lawmakers after election, began to assist congresspersons with reelection fundraising, often via political action committees or PACs. A lobbyist for a cooperative of many businesses could form these relatively new types of organizations to supervise the distribution of monies to the campaigns of “favored members of Congress”.

Corporate PACs became prominent quickly until today when they could be described as ubiquitous. There have been reports that the influence of money, in general, has “transformed American politics”.

My quotes are from the following  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_lobbying_in_the_United_States   There is a lot more to read if you want to.

Lobbying for a good cause is fine with me. Lobbying by corporations and the military I feel is wrong. It would be okay if it was done without “legal bribes” Congressmen/women are wined and dined by these corporations just for their vote on a certain Bill that is helpful to the corporation.

“Congresspersons seeking reelection were able to win easily in most cases since rules regarding gerrymandering and franking privileges usually favored incumbents rather than challengers; several studies found that the probability of congresspersons winning reelection was consistently over 90%. Congress made the rules, including ones about free mailings. Congresspersons could give themselves generous pensions and benefits packages, and could determine the salaries of members; in 2006, salaries were $165,200.”

If lobbying were fair and honest a lobbyist would give a presentation to make his point and move on. No money or favors of any kind would come into it. That way every lobbyist would get a chance to make their case, no matter who is represented or how much money that entity has.

As with most of my posts, this is my opinion. We can discuss it and you might be able to sway me from how I feel. Don’t count on it though.

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funksands
Member

Nirek, like anything else, lobbying is fine in moderate doses. I think any citizen or organization should be able to contact, pressure, advocate it’s Congress for its wishes.

That said, it needs to be supervised, regulated and utterly transparent.

The biggest thing that needs to change is that any Congressman, cabinet official or high-ranking federal official should be completely prohibited from taking any position directly OR indirectly with a lobbying firm for the rest of their natural lives. You may serve the American People or you may serve your organization/individual interest but you may not serve both.

Right now, for many, Congress is simply a resume enhancer that is designed to be a job interview for a far more lucrative position afterwards.

This is one of the cancers that eats at our democracy.

There are other solutions I would employ, but this 1 rule alone may proscribe the need for further action.

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SearingTruth
Member

“It was determined that the rich would live comfortably.

And those who served them would weep.”
SearingTruth

A Future of the Brave

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SearingTruth
Member

“Simple bribery of elected representatives.

And denial of justice.

One of the oldest tragedies innocents have been forever forced to endure.

We need not argue its detail.

Only its plague, risen again.”
SearingTruth

A Future of the Brave

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SearingTruth
Member

“Public finance of public elections is the only just practice, and solution.

None above, or below, another.”
SearingTruth

A Future of the Brave

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monicaangela
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Lobbying is a very lucrative business. But for some it’s more than very lucrative: It’s million-dollar lucrative.

Between 1998 and 2012, 799 lobbyists working at Washington firms have been associated with $1 million or more in annual revenue at least once (in constant 2012 dollars). And between 1998 and 2010, the number of million-dollar firm lobbyists increased almost four-fold, from 71 to 277. That number, however, has declined since then, falling back to 207 in 2012.

Read this article from the Sunlight Foundation:

http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/2014/01/24/million-dollar-lobbyist-rise/

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MurphTheSurf3
Editor

Lobbying Reform

Sunlight is advocating for the Lobbyist Disclosure Enhancement Act. Introduced in June by Rep. Mike Quigley, this legislation would significantly increase public knowledge of influence wielding in Washington. The legislation would require lobbyists to disclose the names of covered executive branch officials or Members of Congress lobbied (or the name of the employer if the lobbyist meets with staff), the dates of the meetings, and the issues discussed. The bill would also close a loophole in who needs to report – a loophole which currently allows some of the most powerful players in Washington to engage in lobbying activities with no disclosure. The bill also significantly speeds disclosure of new registrations, reduces delays in reporting of lobbyists’ contributions, and strengthens enforcement mechanisms.

Sunlight is also advocating for legislators to change lobbying rules so that the public has real-time, online information about who is influencing policy decisions on Capitol Hill. Please read and comment on Sunlight’s legislative proposal, The Real-Time Online Lobbying Disclosure Act on PublicMarkup.org. We’d love to have your thoughts and input during this process.

http://sunlightfoundation.com/policy/lobbying/

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choicelady
Member

Guess what? I am a registered lobbyist. Yup. I work for a non profit doing advocacy on a wide range of human rights and justice issues. We all – non-profit and for-profit – have to take the same ethics courses every two years, and in our state there are major limitations on us as people. The limits are not so grave upon our employers, however – they can make campaign contributions. We personally cannot. I rather like it – saves me a bundle every election year and allows me to tell dunning callers for candidates that I can’t talk with them. Nice that.

I have written laws. That in itself is not a sin. It is that such items we proffer are vetted, changed, altered, and put forward with clear “sponsorship” of our name. Not always clear if it’s Chevron…

States tend to have much more strict controls than do the feds. And yes, it comes down to money. Our state Fair Political Practices Commission requires quarterly revelations on every single dime we put forward. I have some beef with the limits on taking people out to dinner – that is not and never has been the way people are ‘bought’. It’s the trips, the behested donations to fave charities, the game tickets, etc. that are the serious problem. That’s where the big money can be spent so long as it’s declared, and it’s hard to see how a dinner outweighs that.

Here in my state legislators are barred for a year from lobbying, staffers the same. It seems to help.

But here is the biggie – over the 12 years I’ve been mobilizing ordinary people to do grassroots advocacy, that, more than any factor, has been the creation of good legislation that trumps money any day of the week. We are a seriously underfunded organization that has transformed significant legislation with the voices of people from around the state. No money at all. We beat the crap out of the soft drink companies, we beat Big Oil three times over, we were the forces behind the success of ACA federally, and we have triumphed over the auto industry on the state’s Clean Air Act.

Yes the power of people almost always wins. Lobbyists for the big money forces cannot hold a candle to the power of the people WHEN THEY ACT. Money wins in silence and lack of opposition. Money almost always loses when diverse groups unite around a common cause and the people speak.

We definitely need laws federally that are at least as good as good state laws. But we don’t have to wait. I have seen the power of people and its tidal wave of success when people unite and speak out. THAT is the thing that we cannot stop doing. Even as a lobbyist I have little impact until around the state our members and their allies rise. Then we are unstoppable.

Only way money wins is to be silent or gripe exclusively on blog sites. Way money loses is when we speak out, get persistent, keep advocating. Democracy is NOT a spectator sport.

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pinkpantheroz
Member

I, for one, Nirek am disgusted at the power that lobbyists hold over the ‘poor’ politicians. I had thought that POTUS had banned lobbyists from anyone on legislative committees and the White House, but it appears that, in addition to lobbying, these bozos are actually doing the politicians work for them by handing them pre-prepared pieces of legislation, slanted, naturally,towards their clients. Talk about the inmates running the asylum! The pollies are terrified that they might be forced to actually DO something for their salaries, that they might lose re-election funding ( the very reason for a politicians existence, they think!), or lose patronage of the rich and powerful. Note there’s not a word here on doing anything of benefit to the 99%ers of the USA. The only ones of those that matter are the voters in their own District dumb enough to believe that he actually works for them on Capital Hill. Don’t forget, the Advertising he needs to run to maintain that myth is expensive! The problem is that this corruption is so entrenched in the Beltway that nothing much in the way of reform is likely to ever happen, because it is on both sides of the Aisle. So we need someone with huge cojones to be the first to say, ENOUGH!

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choicelady
Member

PBO can keep them out of the White House though it’s fine to have representatives speak their mind so long as all sides get equal time, IMHO. But the GOP especially during the Clinton years invited them into congressional offices to WRITE bills favorable to their industries and employers.

I’ve written bills, too. Many citizens do that, lobbyists or no. But we have clear disclosure as ‘sponsors’ here in CA. When the big guys do it, we don’t know who they are because they don’t become sponsors. There was one Dem Assembly Member who pimped for corporations, and she cost herself her own political future doing so. It was her bill that got overturned in Prop. 39 voters passed 18 months ago. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving witch.

By and large, CA is pretty clear on who’s who doing what. It’s the national level where sponsorship and language provisions in bills is very murky. Yes, it’s always been that way (see the film, “Lincoln” for the best examples of bribery and favors I’ve ever seen.) But it doesn’t have to BE that way. We can change it if we collectively have the political will.

But then, when you challenge Citizens United that does let lobbyists shovel the cash via phony non profits, you get the Ted Cruzes of the world saying we’re trying to abolish ‘free speech’. Sigh. No use quitting, but do note what we’re up against.

“Corporations are people, my friend” my ass.

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