Under the new Lobbying Reform legislation I now have to file lobbying reports quarterly. I also have to submit all my donations to political entities or individuals twice a year. However, as always, these new requirements are a knee jerk reaction to the Jack Abramoff scandal and are just ridiculous.
Under the new rules, I have to claim any expenditures I have when “honoring or recognizing” a Member of Congress or political appointee. However, the definition of “honoring or recognizing” means I have to claim the diet coke I provide if they come to my office and speak to my members. This type of one hour meeting where a Member or Political Appointee speaks to a group of my members for an hour and we serve beverages (sometimes we even put out small bags of chips or cookies) happens all the time. So are you telling me the $1.50 Diet Coke I am providing is influencing a politician? Are you kidding me? Influence isn’t bought..its earned…it is established by creating relationships where you are viewed as smart, intelligent, and a subject matter expert. It has absolutely nothing to do with a Diet Coke.
Here is a great article on the bum rap that lobbyists often get. What I find interesting is that under a Gallop Poll conducted last year respondents were asked to rate professions in terms of honesty and ethics. Lobbyists finished dead last behind used car salesmen, lawyers and politicians. However, I ask those of you who know me well, where would you rate me on the ethical scale of the people you know? Perhaps I am in the wrong profession?
But that is okay, I am preparing my report for the end of this month and I will be happy to let you know how much influence I have bought serving my guest speakers a frosty beverage. Perhaps if this year isn’t successful for me I should upgrade to 20 oz of pure influence!