Are Lobbyists Out of Control?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Shawna Seldon
917 971 7852
Indianapolis (February 26, 2013)—Last year, there were 12,051 registered lobbyists in Washington, and they spent a total of $2.47 billion trying to get government officials to do their bidding. The biggest spender of all? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which forked out almost $96 million on lobbying, followed by the National Association of Realtors, $26 million. One of the top industry sectors? Health, which spent $365 million—more than 10 times as much as organized labor. Does all this money flowing around the nation’s capital corrupt? In the March/April issue of The Saturday Evening Post, now available on newsstands, contributor Fredrick Allen reports on the big business of lobbying.
According to Allen, corruption is not just a myth, nor is the revolving door between Congress and K Street, the main street of lobbying. Almost two-thirds of all lobbying, in dollars spent, involves former congressional staffers. Is such a situation excusable? Should it even be legal? Allen says absolutely. In fact, he insists, it’s necessary. And even the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Researching from the Post’s extensive archives, Allen reports that lobbying has evolved over time from a shady and secretive business, where outright bribes were commonplace, to a heavily regulated one, where transparency rules and where the great majority of lobbyists are open and forthright about what they do and how much they spend and why. As enormous a presence as lobbying has become in Washington (and there’s lobbying in every state capital and county and town, too), it is far more civilized and controlled and honorable today than it ever used to be. At various times, laws have been passed to make it more so, when its evils have become too undeniable.
Today, lobbying is a sophisticated, multibillion dollar industry with tremendous leverage over public debate and policymaking. Since the close of the Civil War, the Post has reported on revelations of indiscretion and corruption among the influence peddlers roaming the halls of Congress. These people have shaded the public’s opinion of the profession, casting both suspicion and demands for reform, as illustrated in the Post archives.
The complete report appears in the March/April issue of The Saturday Evening Post or online at saturdayeveningpost.com/lobbyist-power. To review Post articles on lobbyists from the archives dating back to 1936, visit saturdayeveningpost.com/peddling-influence.
For more information or to schedule an interview with Post contributor Fredrick Allen, please contact Shawna Seldon at The Rosen Group at 917 971 7852 or [email protected].
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