News / USA

Lobbying Pervades Washington, Has International Interest

Much like a political campaign, lobbying involves the crafting and delivery of so-called 'messages' directed at lawmakers and regulators, in hopes of influencing their decisions.
Much like a political campaign, lobbying involves the crafting and delivery of so-called 'messages' directed at lawmakers and regulators, in hopes of influencing their decisions.

Multimedia

When public policy decisions are being made in the United States,. corporations, advocacy groups, and others interact with Congress and the government's Executive Branch to influence those decisions.  This activity, called "lobbying," is sometimes accused of promoting so-called special interests at the expense of the public at-large.

In Washington, the word "lobbying" means an effort to influence legislation or government policy. This is done through contact with Congress and with the Executive Branch's departments and agencies. Lobbying is a huge business, with nearly 3-and-a-half billion dollars spent on it in 2009.

Laws and regulations can be so complex that it takes legions of lawyers to navigate through them and craft strategies for changing their provisions.

Law firms engaged in lobbying perform those services on behalf of their clients.  One of the most prominent lobbying firms in Washington is Patton Boggs, where partner Nicholas Allard says he and his colleagues offer essential skills, much like a dentist.

"I would not -- and you would not -- try to do a root canal on ourselves.  And, that you turn to an expert [a dentist].  And so, put in those terms, the reason why people have expert advocates -- or lobbyists -- is that you need expertise," Allard states. "And, what we are providing to our clients - whether they are big corporations or individuals, whether they are paying top dollar for the expertise on a business issue, whether it is pro bono [without charge] --- and we do a lot of that -- is expertise.  We are providing analysis, advice, and also, expert advocacy.

Part of that expert advocacy Allard refers to is the ability to reach key people who decide on laws and policies.  At the Washington Examiner newspaper, reporter Tim Carney explains why familiarity is so important to achieving success for clients.

"Most of the time, a lobbyist might be somebody who used to work for a particular Congressman," Carney says, "and so, he can get a meeting with that particular Congressman, because the Congressman knows 'He [the lobbyist] is not going to waste my time.' Or, 'He is well informed, or he is well educated.' And so, it is in your interest as a company to hire that former [Congressional] staff member of the Congressman. So, it is access -- that is what it is really about."

Much like a political campaign, lobbying involves the crafting and delivery of so-called "messages" directed at lawmakers and regulators, in hopes of influencing their decisions.   And, these messages constantly bombard Washington through a variety of media, as Ken Vogel at the Politico newspaper points out.

"The way that these folks [lawmakers and regulators] are targeted takes many forms, including not just traditional lobbying, where what you have is people going and meeting in an office or a conference room somewhere. But also, advertisments in newspapers, advertisments on the subway, advertisments on television during football games on Sunday," Vogel said.  "All of these ads, all of this lobbying, even though it does not fit into the traditional idea of what we think of as lobbying, is intended to do the same thing. And, that is, to influence the policy outcomes, the regulatory outcomes, the contracting outcomes, that take place on the decisions that are made here in Washington."

One example of a multi-media lobbying bombardment is the fight between two aircraft makers, Boeing and a European company, Airbus, to win a lucrative Air Force contract for new tanker planes.  Along with using conventional lobbyists, both companies have put out their messages through TV and newspaper ads and other media.  The fight between Boeing and Airbus also highlights the growing effort of foreign corporations and even nations to use lobbyists to influence Washington decisions.

Patton Boggs lobbyist Nicholas Allard reflects on how international problems spur international involvement.   "Perhaps the biggest [recent] change in lobbying is that it is increasingly international, and multi-national.  On most big policy issues - [such as] climate change, financial services regulation - there is widespread, almost universal, understanding around the world that you cannot act unilaterally," he said.

So as long as there are interests to protect, profits to be made, and rights to be asserted, there will be people attempting to influence legislation and regulations.  Sometimes fairly, sometimes not.


Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

US Urges Taliban to Stay With Afghan Peace Talks

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs