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American Gov't: How to Stop Influence of Lobbyist ... Beat Them At Their Own Game [246*7]

Updated on January 26, 2016

Lobbying in Action

Connections count: Congressman Tom Perriello with lobbyist Heather Podesta at an inauguration party for Barack Obama.
Connections count: Congressman Tom Perriello with lobbyist Heather Podesta at an inauguration party for Barack Obama. | Source

THIS HUB IS MY ESOTERIC DAY-DREAMING which I seem to do more of as I grow older and see things only getting worse in the world. I was sitting here Twittering away on something where lobbying was involved ... oh yeah, gun control ,,,, and my mind wandered off onto the subject of how to control the influence lobbyists have had on Congress from 1794 onward. Granted what follows is a bunch of wishful thinking and fancy, it is also serious



Lobbyists and the 1st Amendment

FIRST, LET ME SAY THAT I BELIEVE THE 1st AMENDMENT gives lobbyists the right to talk to whomever they want, including Congressmen and women. (I do NOT believe, on the other hand, the 1st Amendment gives Corporate entities enough personhood status to buy elections.) But, that doesn't mean their targets must listen to or even see them. Second, I also want to say that lobbyist provide a very useful function in the Congressional process. America, especially today, is an immensely complicated organization which is virtually impossible to govern without outside help. Lobbyists provide some of that help by feeding needed information to Congress about what is going on in America. Congress simply does not have the budget to find that out on their own; and you wouldn't want to give them that much money in any event.

The vital help lobbyists provides, however, comes with a steep price to America (remember, nothing is ever free) ... their access to influence votes the way that would be beneficial to the lobbyist and their sponsors. So, the question I was mulling over was how do you reduce the bad and still keep the good; how do you not "throw out the baby with the bathwater" while trying to take back control of Congress from the lobbyists?

My fanciful answer was to fight fire with fire ... create my own lobby!

It's Pretty Simple Really

YOU CAN NEVER HAVE A LOBBYING ORGANIZATION to represent the People by going to Congress to fight for this issue or that. This is because what the People want is too diverse and changes day to day. That would fail just as badly as Congress is today. What is needed is a lobbying group with a different mission and single issue that most Americans can agree on. That mission, of course, would be to stop other lobbying organizations from gaining access to individual elected Congresspeople.

To do this, our Protect America From Lobbyists, Inc (PAFL) needs funds. Since it will have no corporate sponsors, it will have to survive off of donations. It needs to organize as a non-profit (taxable, because it definitely has a political purpose and it is even honest about it to boot) in order to keep the donors anonymous. Believe it or not, there are quite a few very wealthy people who donate to this lobby if they thought it was legit. I suspect PAFL would receive much funds from people like you or me if we thought it would be effective.

The purpose of the funds is three-fold; 1) gain access to Congress, 2) monitor and report on individual Congressmen and women's willingness to be influenced by which lobbies, and 3) fund campaigns and super-PACS. The usefulness of the first two functions should be obvious, so I will focus on the third.

The Lever Is The Congress Person's Desire to Save Their Job

IT APPEARS THE MAIN FUNCTION OF MOST (but not all) CONGRESSMEN AND WOMEN in Congress, once they get elected, is to get re-elected; especially Representatives; that is their weakness and where PAFL must attack. Even for a well-funded corporation, lobby, or super-PAC, resources are limited, so, the expenditure of those resources need to be will-managed and targeted. The first target, I would think would be House races, both State and Federal.

The idea is simple, but requires bundles of money, support candidates who promise not to personally see lobbyists if they get elected; don't let lobbyists pay for any legal trips, lunches, perks, etc for them or their family. Do, however, let lobbyists have legal access to staffs. This is important because it insures a continued flow of information to the representative through their staff as the lobbyists try to influence them to influence their boss.

If PAFL's donations can become a significant source of funds to the representatives campaign such that the withdrawal of those funds would significantly reduce their chance of getting re-elected, then PAFL would have the leverage to enforce its "no fraternization" requirement to receive its funds. PAFL wouldn't have to get to all representatives, but just enough to gum up the works; where representatives actually start thinking for themselves.

Is This a Good Idea?


See results

© 2014 Scott Belford


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    • My Esoteric profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Belford 

      6 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Again, thanks for reading and commenting, @Larry. Any ideas are good ones. The first hurdle any solution is going to have to clear is one of Free Speech and all of its ramifications, especially given the recent court rulings making corporations almost superhuman.

      So, your idea, not to run afoul of the Supreme Court, would have to be "in addition to" all else that is going on. In other words its operation would be by gov't civilians paid for by gov't funds whose charter is to let federal candidates have equal time day and night on the airwaves. (Radio would be easy, TV maybe a challenge unless it is cable). The question is, could a public function bar others except candidates from using it.

      If gov't can't, then the alternative would be a philanthropic organization(s) setting up such a venture. Then they have complete control over the content. However, under that format, you have the problem of bias.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      6 years ago from Oklahoma

      Very thought provoking,

      Personally, I've thought and thought about the best way to deal with the lobbyist problem. I've read a number of articles and watched a number of documentaries. I'm still not fixed on an answer besides that things are really messed up and need to be fixed.

      I think your ideas are wonderful as a partial answer, but I still think there are more complexities here to deal with.

      One concept, and it is just a concept, so if you think it's foolish let me know, is to reduce the cost of elections by having television and radio stations that are publicly owned whose soul purpose is for campaigning.

      No more expensive ads on networks. Just a few channels we can turn to with a simple, inexpensive format where potential candidates can tell us what they believe.

      Just a thought I've been pondering. Don't know if it is realistic or viable, but I keep coming back to it.

    • profile image

      bradmaster from orange county ca 

      6 years ago

      My Esoteric

      Another information packed hub that appears to fall on deaf ears, I just don't understand viewers that don't comment.

      Bestowing human qualities on corporations is simply wrong. A corporation can live forever, and it protects the liability of the people that own the corporation.

      By the people, of the people, and for the people excludes corporations by its definition. Recently, I found out that the Supreme Court has been using Friend of the Court briefs to make their decisions. The real problem is that these creators of these briefs don't have to have any expertise, or credibility Many of them are organizations with a dog in the fight, which is not the purpose of the friend of the court.

      I find another problem with the political system equally as disturbing as the lobbyists. That is the political fundraiser held by incumbents. President Obama has been the poster child of this diversion of duty since he was a senator.

      Theoretically, the party is supposed to reimburse the government for the expenses not related to their job as congressmen, vice president or president of the US.

      In reality, the payback to the government is pennies on the dollar. This week alone, VP Biden, and President Obama visited CA for the purpose of fundraisers. It is not like Biden and Obama are just two people draining the US treasury on a purely personal party function, they are accompanied by a very large, and expensive support team. Air Force One alone will cost a couple of million dollars. Then there is the advance Secret Service, the support vehicles and Secret Service Agents, and do you really think that the party is paying back any substantial part of these costs to the people?

      Yes, all the politicians do it, and that just makes it worse. President Obama and VP Biden should be in NY looking over the Ebola crisis, not fundraising for an election.

      As to your original issue on lobbyists, none of these corporate paid donations to the politicians should be made as a tax deduction. The stockholders of the respective companies should be made aware that their company's money has been spent for influence on politicians.

      Yes, I also understand that is the way that business works in the US, but it is still not right to do it that way. Why should the fundraisers generate a tax benefit for supporting political parties. If they want to donate to the parties, then make it without any tax benefits. Close that loophole.

      How does donations by lobbyists, and fundraisers compare to the illegal act of payola?



    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      7 years ago from Beautiful South

      Your PAFL is a PAC that will PIFFLE without funds. So, lobby for funding. Everybody else does, then they apply for 501c status and the IRS gets browbeaten by the “people” because they question the motives of the applicants. It’s their job to question applications for 501c – just not mine, they say.

      Seriously, I think this is an idea that if functioning, could get out of control just as quickly as the Tea Party. Because of its dictatorial policies, it could become just as dangerous, and possibly violate some Constitutional law somewhere.

      You are correct in that some lobbies do good. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) did some mad lobbying and got more stringent laws passed against driving while intoxicated, for example. The majority of lobbyists, however, are self-serving and one-sided. Their aim is to make money for the conglomerate they represent, and in turn, make money for themselves. That is why there are laws in place in some states that prohibit a legislator to work as a lobbyist for at least two years after he or she leaves office. Our state has such a law, I think, but it has no law prohibiting a state legislative or administrative employee from leaving a state job and immediately getting a job as a lobbyist. These are very effective lobbyists because they know the right people at the right moment. Remember, it ain’t what you know, it’s who you know.


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