Updated: May 15, 2020
Attacking lobbying and lobbyists is not new, its an age old activity here in Washington. This year is no different. What is different is the pace at which legislation continues to be introduced seeking to limit our Constitutional right to petition our government, which is clearly spelled out in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. I think either some in Congress have never read the Constitution or simply don’t mind trampling on it if it satisfies their own political agenda.
This isn’t me blowing smoke or creating so-called fake news. This is real and something all of us need to be concerned about. Just this morning the House Administration Committee held a hearing focusing on H.R. 1, which addresses issues like voting rights, ethics, and campaign finance. This hearing was filled with academics, think tanks, and local officials. What was missing is a voice from the lobbying profession.
We’re routinely blamed for all the problems in Washington, including all the corruption, which ironically never falls on the member of Congress who broke the law. That argument is for another day. Instead, H.R. 1 creates a system that appears on the surface to condone government sponsored corruption. In the bill there is language that creates a 6 to 1 government match to small-donor campaign contributions up to $200. This means that for every $200 that a candidate receives, the federal government (using your tax dollars) is giving $1,200 to that candidates campaign. If the complaint is lobbyist donations are corrupting, wouldn’t the same apply to the government funneling money to its favorite candidates in each party?
If that’s not bad enough, we have a new generation of candidates who don’t seem to understand the process or understand what a Political Action Committee is. Follow this link and watch a new member cry foul about PAC money (corporate PAC money specifically) yet if you look at her own filings, she has accepted the very donations she is complaining about (Union PAC money).
Here are other pieces of legislation targeting our profession: H.R. 577, H.R. 706, H.R. 765, H.R. 783, H.R. 842, H.R. 931, H.R. 1021, H.R. 1022, H.R. 1145, S. 232 and there are a lot more.
This is one of the biggest reasons NILE exists – to speak out against these attacks. These attacks will continue and we are not going to back down. The hearings this year held on issues like ethics and lobbying reform have not included our profession, even after repeated efforts to be a part of them. We will continue to request a voice and to be part of the process and solution
If Congress was serious about real reform, they would sit down with NILE and craft a bill that closes loopholes, creates more transparency, and shuts down the shadow lobbying profession, which continues to grow and thrive. We continue to reachout to both sides of the aisle urging them to join with us on implementing real reforms that work. The window dressing we see now is nothing more than political theatre to cover up bad actors on their side, not ours.
The last time I looked, I don’t get to vote on legislation. If members are being “bought” by campaign donations, then that is their lack of integrity. Don’t take it out on us. Don’t infringe on our laws. And, don’t trample on the Constitution.
NILE is standing up for you and your right to petition your government. We are protecting the First Amendment!