Corporate lobbying by private interests is unmeritocratic - it’s the unfair advantage of the invisible hand of the free market. It isn’t necessary in meritocracy, which seeks to hire the most achieved of society, the experts and the most merited - and not private interests. There is a whole world of difference and to deny this is to minimize the problem we have all around the world with private interests lobbying governments.
I actually do try talking with the government. I sometimes have gotten responses that make me think someone has looked at what I wrote. . . .maybe 1 time, over several years, someone of importance has read my message, but there certainly wasn’t a coversation with them.
I appreciate that the government does make some effort to hear the voice of citizens, but it’s clear that large corporations from other nations have a gilded door they can walk through to have real converstations with people in the government, while the only portal my messages go through leads into a garbage can.
Professional advocates make big bucks to lobby members of Congress and government officials on the issues their clients care about. But the money that industries, companies, unions and issue groups spend on lobbying is often just a drop in the bucket compared to what they can reap in return if their lobbyists are successful. Here you can see who spends what on federal lobbying and where they focus their resources.
You’ve heard it before - it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. In our nation’s capital, success comes with a combination of knowledge and personal connections. This database tracks thousands of individuals who’ve spun through Washington’s “revolving door”, employing professional relationships and know-how accumulated through public service to advance the goals of their private employers.
In a campaign finance system where all the money originates from individuals, political action committees, or PACs, control the most “corporate” of money. Controlled by companies, trade associations, unions, issue groups and even politicians (a subset called “leadership PACs”), these committees pool contributions from individuals and distribute them to candidates, political parties and other PACs. PACs can also spend money independently on political activities, including advertising and other efforts to support or oppose candidates in an election.
Abuse and reform
The practice of lobbying is a natural outgrowth of representative government but is vulnerable to abuse, most commonly to bribery. Lobbyists attempt to buy influence in a number of ways, including making campaign contributions and collecting funds from other donors for re-election campaigns; offering services and privileges such as luxury accommodations or the complimentary use of a corporate jet for travel; paying for lavish events to “honor” lawmakers; paying for meals or vacations; and promising future employment. Lobbyists sometimes form Political Action Committees to support the election of a particular candidate. During 2007–2008, the Federal Election Commission of the United States limited the amount that individual lobbyists could donate to a political candidate to $2,300, and the amount that a PAC could donate to a candidate to $5,000. During the 2008 presidential elections, over 140 lobbyists acted as “bundlers” for presidential candidates, gathering donations from other supporters.
In response to lobbying abuses, Congress passed the “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007,” containing a number of provisions that govern aspects of lobbying. It prevents former Senators from lobbying Congress for two years after they have left and maintains the current rule preventing former Representatives from lobbying the House for one year. It also prevents former members who become lobbyists from using Congress’ parking and gym privileges. Congressional travel paid for by outside groups must be reported on the Internet. Lawmakers are forced to report all lobbyist-bundled contributions that total more than $15,000 every six months. Lobbyists cannot pay for parties or events at national Party conventions. The Act increases disclosure of lobbyists’ contributions to lawmakers and entities controlled by lawmakers, including contributions to their charities, to events or entities honoring Members of Congress, contributions intended to pay the cost of a meeting or a retreat, and contributions to Presidential library funds. A searchable online database now discloses the previous employment of lobbyists in the executive branch and Congress, and Member travel and personal financial information.
As the EU developed from a Member States organization into a substantial political entity, and dealt with policy in more areas, it became more important as a target for lobbying. The enlargement of the European Union in 2004 incorporated an even wider range of different political cultures and traditions. In the wake of lobbying scandals in the United States and the United Kingdom, rules for lobbying in the EU, which until now only consist of a non-binding code of conduct, may also be tightened.
The fragmented nature of EU institutional structure provides multiple channels through which organized interests may seek to influence policy-making. Lobbying takes place at the European level itself and within the existing national states. The most important institutional targets are the Commission, the Council, and the European Parliament. The Commission has a monopoly on the initiative in Community decision-making. Since it has the power to draft initiatives, it is an ideal arena for interest representation. There are three main channels for indirect lobbying of the Council. First, interest groups routinely lobby the national delegations in Brussels. Secondly, interest groups lobby members of the many Council working groups. The third means of influencing the Council is directly via national governments. As a consequence of its co-decision procedures, the European Parliament attracts attention from lobbyists who target the rapporteur and the Chairman of the Committee. The rapporteurs are MEPs appointed by Committees to prepare the parliament’s response to the Commission’s proposal and to those measures taken by the Parliament itself.
There are currently around 15,000 lobbyists in Brussels (consultants, lawyers, associations, corporations, NGOs, and so on) seeking to influence the EU’s legislative process. Some 2,600 special interest groups have a permanent office in Brussels. Their distribution is roughly as follows: European trade federations (32 percent), consultants (20 percent), companies (13 percent), NGOs (11 percent), national associations (10 percent), regional representations (6 percent), international organizations (5 percent), and think tanks (1 percent).