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American Gov't: How to Stop the Influence of Lobbyist ... Beat Them At Their Own Game

Updated on January 6, 2024
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ME has spent most of his retirement from service to the United States studying, thinking, and writing about the country he served.

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

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Scott Belford


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