Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

July 26, 2010

Lobbyists

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Let the word lobbyist come up in a conversation and expect negative comments . . . even some slurs.  There is something about the word that causes people to believe that it stands for corruption and wrongdoing.

As in all professions, there are some who obviously are wrongdoers!   We should never tolerate such persons.  But focusing on lobbyists, are they the exception?  Are all of them like those who are in the news when they break the rules?

Lobbyists — who are they?  Lobbyists are persons paid by interest groups to promote their positions to legislators–be it on the state or national level.  There has been much publicity through the years of corruption by lobbyists.  That is the reason for such heavy regulation now.  There are many new rules that control the relationship between a lobbyist and a legislator.  The rules apply not only to the lobbyist, but to the legislator also.

Legislators should listen to the people.  They are there to represent the people and to seek to enact legislation that will strengthen institutions, businesses, communities, and the general welfare of the populace.  But many times a legislator might be unaware of some needs.  How can a legislator know all the needs that should be addressed?  Someone may need to bring certain matters to his or her attention.  This is a role that can be filled by a lobbyist.  This person will represent a certain interest group to bring a need to the legislator.

Again, we must recognize that it is easy to stray into bribes.  That has happened far too often.  But let’s be fair!  It takes “two to tango” as we have heard.  Even if a lobbyist sought to provide some personal financial gain to the legislator, the legislator makes a personal decision of response.  Corruption cannot exist without both parties participating!

Consider the positive side of lobbying.  Many citizens do it in their own communities.  Perhaps one does not get paid for it, but an individual speaks to a city commissioner asking for a certain road to be paved.  That citizen has brought a matter to the attention of the commissioner . . . and is lobbying to get it accomplished.

The professional lobbyist is employed to do the exact same.  A legislator may not be aware of a need for research funds for a cancer hospital.  The hospital employs the lobbyist to represent them to legislators in order to inform and encourage the legislator to seek those funds, or to support legislation that is being considered for that purpose.  All this can occur without corruption.

There is a positive side to lobbying if we would be fair and opened minded.  There are so many good laws in our land and benefits to universities, hospitals, and non-profit groups that are a result of the work of lobbyists.  One recent law in our land to protect children is called “Jessica’s Law.”  It is named for a young girl whose life was destroyed by an individual.  The father appeared before congressional committees seeking to make a federal law.  Such a law was enacted in Florida. The  request for such a law, and the enactment of such a law, came about because of a lobbyist.  And in this case, as with many, the work was done ‘pro-bono’ by the lobbyist.

In a past blog I spoke of “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”  That may be  appropriate here.  Despite the wrong doing of some, let’s be aware that many good things occur because of lobbyists!

I stand opposed to any corruption, but I support the positive influence of those who can strengthen our society and institutions.

Lawson

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