Business Politics

Public opinion on Lobbying

Public opinion on Lobbying

Lobbyists and lobbying firms have played major roles in the enactment of a number of laws and the rejection of proposals.

Most people see lobbying as a way of expressing their right to petition via a person or organization who will represent them in both the U.S. Congress and the U.S. Senate. Lobbying firms have successfully represented people such as millers, miners, industrial workers, teachers, farmers, and healthcare personnel. Most of them have benefited from lobbyists who have represented them in laws regarding healthcare, insurance, fair wages, and finance, among other issues. The lobbying firm Mickey Ibarra and Associates, based in Washington D.C., has been representing most of the Latino communities in the United States who have ties to the business industry.

A non-partisan and non-profit organization, Democracy21 aims to eradicate the influence of money in politics. Democracy21 has been actively involved in campaigning for finance reforms, such as the ban on soft money enacted in 2002, which had a great impact on reforming both the Federal Election Commission and the presidential public financing system. Democracy21 is also a vocal champion for the enforcement of finance laws in the country. In this way, lobbying and lobbyists are seen in a positive light.

However, there are some sectors in the populace that see lobbying as a ‘stalling tactic’ by large corporations who are keen on preventing the passing of legislations that might harm or hinder their corporate goals. The case of Ohio Governor Ted Strickland’s Energy Plan of 2007 illustrates how the public deems lobbying as a delaying mechanism. In Gov. Strickland’s proposal, all power and energy providers in the state of Ohio are required to generate or buy a quarter of the electricity they sell from alternative energy sources, like wind and solar power. Labor unions agreed with the plan, as it would generate jobs for industrial workers needed for power plant construction. Environmentalists also applauded the plan for its mandate to purchase renewable energy sources. Power utilities, in contrast, disagreed with Strickland’s proposal, citing the provision in which power companies are blocked from basing their charges on the ever-changing market prices. Below are several companies with their respective lobbyists/lobbying firms:

  • FirstEnergy - lobbied by former Cong. Dennis Eckart and former political director for Ohio Democratic House Sarah Briggs (along with 17 others);
  • Boich Coal Mining Company - lobbied by Mike Dawson, former policy adviser to U.S. Sen. Mike DeWine;
  • Other companies have hired lobbying firms with lobbyists nearly totaling 100.

Presently, the debate is still on-going between lawmakers regarding Gov. Strickland’s Energy Plan.

Another negative image lobbying has projected to the public is that lobbying firms have been involved in scandals related to bribery, corruption, coercion, tax evasion, conspiracy, and overpricing, among others. The Jack Abramoff Indian Scandal involved lobbyists Jack Abramoff, Ralph E. Reed, Jr., Grover Norquist, and Michael Scanlon who lobbied in behalf of the Native American Gambling Enterprises. The lobbying team of Jack Abramoff allegedly overcharged their clients, with fees for lobbying services amounting to $85 million. The profits were secretly shared. In one reported incident, Jack Abramoff was said to have lobbied against their own clients to charge them for more. During the course of the investigation, Congressman Bob Ney and two assistants to Congressman Tom DeLay were proven to have received illegal donations and were directly implicated.