A Day In The Life Of A Georgia Lobbyist
Her phone rings. It is another board member, and he is at the Capitol. We are off to the third floor and a day that accelerates from 0 to 60 very quickly. Among the sea of suits, we find her guest and connect him with Rep. Stephens, who will escort him onto the floor of the House for a visit.
Immediately thereafter, we meet up with the lobbyist for the Department of Economic Development, which houses the tourism budget and serves as the state's marketing apparatus for the industry. They discuss the House budget cuts, pending legislation and chart strategy. During that conversation she is approached by another lobbyist from the Association County Commissioners of Georgia who relays concerns over a hotel tax bill introduced a day earlier. Joy assures her the bill is a temporary bill and that a substitute is coming. [...]
Not much later, the lobbyist for the Georgia Municipal Association approaches Joy expressing similar concerns. Joy again explains a substitute is coming.
Shhhh! it's a secret!
A Day in the life of a Lobbyist
First and foremost, lobbyists must be adept at the art of persuasion, which is the mainstay of their job. They must figure out how to sway politicians to vote on legislation in a way that favors the interest they represent.
The lobbyist imparts her information with the help of graphs, charts, polls, and reports that she has hunted up or created.
Sometimes, lobbyists will even sit down and help a politician draft legislation that is advantageous for their interest. Maintaining good relations with politicians who can be relied on to support the lobbyist’s interest is key.
While lobbyists and their employers cannot themselves make large campaign donations to politicians, they can, and do, raise money from other sources for reelection campaigns.
It's just Free Speech, right? ... No Big Deal ... Just SOP!
Paying Your Dues
Lobbying is a profession full of people who have changed careers, since relevant knowledge and experience are all you really need to become a lobbyist. There are no licensing or certification requirements, but lobbyists are required to register with the state and federal governments. Most lobbyists have college degrees. A major in political science, journalism, law, communications, public relations, or economics should stand future lobbyists in good stead.
Any out of work College Grads, out there? --
No time like the present to Launch a very lucrative career.
If the fast track of Congressional elbow-rubbing, is not your style -- No worries there are plenty of opportunities for the "behind the scenes" mud-slingers ...
Former Insurance Exec, spills the beans. (Maybe it's not so secret anymore?)
WENDELL POTTER: They were afraid that people would believe Michael Moore.
BILL MOYERS: We obtained a copy of the game plan that was adopted by the industry's trade association, AHIP. And it spells out the industry strategies in gold letters. It says, "Highlight horror stories of government-run systems." What was that about?
WENDELL POTTER: The industry has always tried to make Americans think that government-run systems are the worst thing that could possibly happen to them, that if you even consider that, you're heading down on the slippery slope towards socialism. So they have used scare tactics for years and years and years, to keep that from happening. If there were a broader program like our Medicare program, it could potentially reduce the profits of these big companies. So that is their biggest concern.
BILL MOYERS: And there was a political strategy. "Position Sicko as a threat to Democrats' larger agenda." What does that mean?
WENDELL POTTER: That means that part of the effort to discredit this film was to use lobbyists and their own staff to go onto Capitol Hill and say, "Look, you don't want to believe this movie. You don't want to talk about it. You don't want to endorse it. And if you do, we can make things tough for you."
BILL MOYERS: How?
WENDELL POTTER: By running ads, commercials in your home district when you're running for reelection, not contributing to your campaigns again, or contributing to your competitor.
Sometimes it takes a Shark, to get things done! ... to discredit the Messengers.
What's good for the all-important Corporation, is well, GOOD for the Corporation!
And internal, phone-banker Lobbyists can help manage the message:
How Corporations work their Persuasion Agendas
BILL MOYERS: They radicalized Moore, so that his message was discredited because the messenger was seen to be radical.
WENDELL POTTER: Absolutely. In memos that would go back within the industry — he was never, by the way, mentioned by name in any memos, because we didn't want to inadvertently write something that would wind up in his hands. So the memos would usually-- the subject line would be-- the emails would be, "Hollywood." And as we would do the media training, we would always have someone refer to him as Hollywood entertainer or Hollywood moviemaker Michael Moore.
BILL MOYERS: Why?
WENDELL POTTER: Well, just to-- Hollywood, I think people think that's entertainment, that's movie-making. That's not real documentary. They don't want you to think that it was a documentary that had some truth. They would want you to see this as just some fantasy that a Hollywood filmmaker had come up with. That's part of the strategy.
BILL MOYERS: So you would actually hear politicians mouth the talking points that had been circulated by the industry to discredit Michael Moore.
WENDELL POTTER: Absolutely.
BILL MOYERS: You'd hear ordinary people talking that. And politicians as well, right?
WENDELL POTTER: Absolutely.
BILL MOYERS: So your plan worked.
WENDELL POTTER: It worked beautifully.
BILL MOYERS: The film was blunted, right?
WENDELL POTTER: The film was blunted. It--
BILL MOYERS: Was it true? Did you think it contained a great truth?
WENDELL POTTER: Absolutely did.
BILL MOYERS: What was it?
WENDELL POTTER: That we shouldn't fear government involvement in our health care system. That there is an appropriate role for government, and it's been proven in the countries that were in that movie.
BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Preview: Wendell Potter pt 2 | PBS
Well there are "public interest" Lobbies too, right? You know, Advocacy Groups, fighting for truth, justice and the America way?
Well yes, but even they must be ever watchful of the Unspoken Rules, of the Secret Society, which they have joined ...
A Day in the Life of a (PAC-savy) Lobbyist (pdf)
There is no typical day. According to the latest figures, there are 34,785-registered lobbyists in Washington. That figure has doubled in the last 5 years. [...] Can you imagine 34,785 people walking up and down the halls of Congress? And, after those two martini lunches, can you imagine them staggering up and down the halls?
Let me tell you what we really do.
scanning through these newspapers. We then open the e-mail,
So are we ever on the Hill? Absolutely! Every day that Congress is in session, one, if not more, are up there for one or more meetings. We pre-schedule meetings, for the most part, and most of the meetings that we have are with staff most of those with committee staff. That’s where we start because that’s where the action happens. At these committee staff meetings we find out which members of Congress need specific targeting and then we start working with their staff. Members of Congress have staff assigned to specific areas, be it health, civil service, social security, and so forth, and those are generally the people we are meeting with. You meet with the members of Congress only when you are ready to move something.
So don’t go before a Legislator and try to hype an issue or make it seem worse than it is. Just give the facts-- which you can get from us if you don’t know them--and certainly use your own personal situations to get the need for our legislation across.
You have to be ethical, never promise a contribution of any kind for a vote, and never threaten.
I just mentioned here that we should never talk about PAC when you’re talking about votes. I want to stress that. Don’t even say PAC in a member’s office. A member cannot talk about PAC in their office and we can’t either. You cannot present PAC checks to member of Congress in their office, or in any government building.
Don’t go into an office and talk about "we’ll see that you get PAC money, or we’ll see that you don’t get PAC money." It’s not to be discussed at the same time with legislation. You can say we’re glad to support you, tell us what we might do to support you. They understand this too.
You have to be very careful about how you’re using the PAC in this process. That’s why we handle PAC contributions in the National office where we know Federal Election Committee (FEC) rules. We have to get a request for PAC contributions in writing in our office.
SOOOO, If you decide to join one of these societies of "movers and shakers", make sure, you read up on that PAC "secret handshake" Handbook, first.
NOOOO, Quid-Pro-Quo's are allowed, at least NOT verbally. Although you're not dealing with a bunch of "Boy Scouts", however. They will slip you their "retainer fee" in writing, through the well-worn channels, in the Halls of Power. It's simply understood. ... (wink, wink, nod, nod -- that's not speaking is it?)
PAC Money equals Influence, inside the DC beltway. Just don't TALK about it - EVER! ... (Pssst, it's their dirty little secret.)
Kind of explains why "Lower Income" folks, never get much of a say in DC. doesn't it? Maybe we need our own Lobbyist Representatives? ... The Poor Richard's Lobby?
Hmmmm wait, I doubt we can afford it. Nevermind!
Still it seems, Some Things, should not be For Sale to the highest bidder ... like who gets to Make a Profit from your failing Health Conditions ...
It just doesn't seem fair, in a "civilized society" ... now does it?
But [soft] Money, talks and talks and TALKS ...
and the People, walk and walk and ...
One day, starts getting really "Mad as Hell" ...
hope it's not too late ...