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

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid