Policy Market Blog

Blame the lobbyists...

Martin Kennedy - Friday, October 13, 2017

Why not, that's what everyone else does, don't they?  My recollection of the Tennessee Waltz scandal, soon after moving to Nashville, was that a handful of faux lobbyists (undercover law enforcement) bribed some legislators.  Some took the money or offer of money and were charged.  Some who were charged copped pleas and others went to trial, but most involved did time.  Is that about right?  But, what was the reaction?  There was a special session called, wasn't there?  To crack down on lobbying.  They tightened regulations.  Why?  Didn't the existing laws work as designed?  I don't know, it just seems that the lobbyists got tarnished in that sting, but I don't recall any real lobbyists being involved or implicated.    

Today, I'll be reaching out to lobbyists.  I say 'reaching out,' because cold calls, the notion of making a cold call, has changed since I sold copiers and fax machines in the early 90's.  Pre World-Wide-Web, pre-Internet, pre-email.... they really were cold calls, both by phone and walking office parks -- what's behind this door I do not know, but this I know and know it well, the more I open, the more I sell!!!  I picked that up, I'm sure, at a rah rah sales meeting. It was the mantra of some superstar insurance salesman. 

What comes to mind when you think of lobbyists?  
 I'd imagine a strong negative reaction if you just did a word association game with random people.  If you said 'lobbyist,' the person lying on the couch would say what? 
a. Insider
b. bribery
c. special interests
d. backroom deals
e. cigar smoke?  

My own experience is that lobbyists help legislators understand an issue. Sure, they're selling.  They're giving you content from a particular perspective, but the audience knows that going in.  It's not as if the lobbyist can bamboozle a legislator.  He or she can, like a good trial attorney, be an effective advocate.  That's what they get paid for. Yes, there's all manner of rent-seeking behavior, but that doesn't implicate the lobbyists.  That's on the legislators and those who elect them.  

Anyway, I'll shoot a batch of emails out to some lobbyists.  It is not unlike when I was a kid on snow day. We'd go out looking for walkways and driveways to shovel.  Most people said no, but some said yes.  We'd get some good exercise and make money and the homeowners would get a nicely shoveled walkway.  Everyone was a winner.  We call that mutually beneficial exchange.  

Favorite book on lobbying:  Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley.  Very funny. 
I've not seen the movie, but it looks good.   

American Hustle is a movie you should see.  I remember when Abscam went down and the movie has one of the funniest scenes ever, when the FBI agent complains that the sting name, Abscam, is racist.  It was short for 'Arab Scam.'  
Here's a real Abscam clip, from the actual sting in 1980.  What was the most memorable line from Abscam?


Post has no comments.
Post a Comment

Captcha Image

Trackback Link
Post has no trackbacks.