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Lobbying is one of the most misunderstood and disliked professions in America.
And yet, most ill-gotten perceptions leading to the bad rap lobbyists get come from the notorious few, whether in Washington, D.C. or Harrisburg, who don’t truly represent the scores of true professionals actually doing it right. They ensure that voices and perspectives are heard and consequences to actions by politicians considered in advance of legislation created.
In any business or industry, there are those who do it right and those who don’t. When lobbying is done right, ALL MYTHS ARE DEBUNKED.
Here are five of the very worst myths about lobbyists debunked:
Myth 1: Lobbyists add nothing to the legislative process.
Actually, lobbyists are advocates for people, groups and businesses who are affected by the actions or inactions of the legislature, and that’s just about everyone. Lobbyists provide information, context, and insight to lawmakers so that they can make the best decisions possible for their constituents and the entire state. In a state as large and diverse as Pennsylvania, it’s important for lawmakers to learn about how proposed legislation will affect districts and people very different from the ones they represent. In this way, lobbyists serve to educate and inform and move the final result toward the “common good.”
Myth 2: Anybody can be a lobbyist.
Not at all. Lobbyists must be registered with the state and abide by complex legal reporting. Also, industries and businesses seek out lobbying partners to advocate on their behalf who have deep knowledge of the issues and relationships with key legislators and staff members. Trustworthiness and experience are highly sought-after traits and tend to separate effective lobbyists from ineffective ones.
Myth 3: Lobbyists are why it takes years to get anything done in Harrisburg.
Good lobbyists operate with a sense urgency for their clients, but there are obviously lots of competing interests in Harrisburg. If two lobbyists working on opposite sides of an issue do their job well, sometimes lawmakers will hold up a bill to wait for more information or drill down on it further. That may delay things, but the ultimate result should be a better bill or improved public policy. The legislative process was not designed firstly to be quick and efficient, but instead to be representative of the often competing needs and desires of the citizens.
Myth 4: Lobbyists buy votes with campaign donations and lavish gifts.
The best a campaign contribution can do for a lobbyist is provide access. From an ethical perspective, all actions must be reasonably weighed and considered. That is why Pugliese Associates does not work on campaigns. The days of gift-giving and catered lunches for lawmakers is still present but candidly, these types of things may provide you access but does not “buy” you votes on a particular issue you working on in Harrisburg. Effective lobbyists today gain their staying power by being trustworthy advocate meaning that the information they provide must be honest and credible for their clients and information providers for legislators.
Myth 5: Lobbyists only represent evil “special interests,” not average people.
If you think about it, everyone who wants or needs state government to “do something” is a special interest. Lobbyists are hired to represent the entire spectrum of those who may be affected by proposed public policies. They compete vigorously in the marketplace of ideas to encourage the best legislative outcome. This inherent competition of ideas and interests, if conducted fairly and transparently, leads to good government outcomes. Who do lobbyists represent – just an example, churches, hospitals, non-profit services organizations, for profit companies and corporations just to name a few.
**BONUS MYTH** All lobbyists wear alligator-skinned shoes.
No, some wear non-alligator loafers and shoes, high heels, or even cowboy boots. Lobbyists do not discriminate in shoe wear.
If you’re looking for a lobbying firm that has the experience necessary to get the job done, the integrity to do the job right, and the people who can deliver the best results – contact Pugliese Associates today.