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Hiring A Lobbyist

So you’re thinking about hiring a lobbyist?

You may want to read this!

The New York Times, January 25, 2013
“What the Small Player Can Expect When Using a Lobbyist”, By Paul Sullivan

I liked this article so much that I kept a clipping (yes, that thing you do with scissors) which disappeared into the chaos of my office and only recently washed ashore on my desk.

I liked it even more upon a second reading because it describes, in layman’s terms, my business as a governmental affairs consultant (aka, multi-client or contract lobbyist). And it doesn’t use the words “K Street” or “stench” even once!

First and foremost, Sullivan just nails the thought process which precedes a business’s or individual’s decision to hire a lobbyist. And he gives a surprisingly simple, but accurate introduction to the actual practice of lobbying, one which goes beyond the “access to lawmakers” stereotype (a round of golf, a Precedent Syrah, then a wink and a nod on your amendment).

“What the Small Player Can Expect When Using a Lobbyist” addresses four salient points:

1. The value of hiring a lobbyist:

“I wish we had the expertise, knowledge and contacts to have been able to do this ourselves,” (said one chief executive)…But just as you would go to a doctor when you are sick, you go to a lobbyist for your legislative affairs.”

2. The value (and effectiveness) of lobbying at the state or local level:

“People who have success lobbying state and local governments – since the federal government is beyond the budget of individuals – tend to fall into three categories: they want something changed, they want something new or they want access.”

3. The value (and affordability) of like interests pooling their resources to hire a lobbyist:

“For small business owners, forming an ad hoc group and putting aside any competitive business interest to get something greater for their industry is important.”

4. The value (and inevitability) of taking the long view:

“People have to understand that the Legislature is an incrementalist institution…It takes time to move your initiative forward.”

At any rate, that’s my take-away. What’s yours? (To the cynics: PULeeeze, if you must comment, can you try to say something interesting and original?! We’ve already heard about the dark arts and money changers)

There are 2 comments.

Bill Helwig —

As complex as the institution presents itself in terms of public policy, I am pleased to see the civility (that comes with knowledge of the issues) you possess. You are a credit to the ethical side of the lobbyist corps, and are to be respected for it.

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