Let’s All Go To The Lobby

The quote, “If you can’t take their money, drink their liquor, screw their women, and then come in here the next day and vote against them, you don’t belong here.” has been attributed to California politician Jesse Marvin Unruh, Lyndon Johnson and LBJ’s mentor, Sam Rayburn. Regardless of whoever said it first, it appears that the precept has fallen by the wayside.

The government website, http://disclosures.house.gov/ld/ldsearch.aspx displays a list of 54,668 lobbyists when queried for the registration year 2014. If that figure is true, it means there are over 500 lobbyists for each senator. It is no wonder the Senators always look rushed when they’re interviewed on T.V.

The non-profit non-partisan website, http://reporting.sunlightfoundation.com/ displays a very comprehensive list of Washington lobbyists. The list can be viewed by the representative they are contacting, and the client that is paying them. One of my Senators, Johnny Isakson, appears to receive many visits from foreign lobbyists and received campaign contributions from some of the lobbying firms. My other Senator, Saxby Chambliss, is shown having been lobbied by former Presidential candidate turned lobbyist Bob Dole on behalf of the government of Taiwan. Mr. Chambliss is no stranger to campaign contributions from foreign lobbyists either. Re: Bob Dole, it is hard to imagine running for President of the United States and coming back to Washington to schmooze for a foreign government, particularly one as small as Taiwan.

Many states provide lists of the registered lobbyists and the industries they represent. My state of Georgia provides a very good list of lobbyists, and the representatives who they are lobbying at http://ethics.ga.gov/Reports/Lobbyist/Lobbyist_Menu.aspx. A search of the site “for all” comes back with 1,194 lobbyists representing 3051 groups for the year 2013. Now admittedly, these total numbers are inflated as the lobbyist is required to register for each level of state government he intends to influence, but, why would Georgia need a lobbyist based in Rhode Island? What has Rhode Island got that is so compelling that the people of Georgia need to have their representative’s arms twisted by someone from Woonsocket? Searching the list provides company names like Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private-held prison company in the U.S, which is based in Tennessee.

Having lived in Georgia most of my life, I can assure you that the Georgia legislators do not need outsiders putting bad ideas in their heads, they are perfectly capable of doing that on their own. As Uncle Dub always said, when bad ideas have nowhere else to go, they hold a picnic at the Georgia state house.

Uncle Dub ran a filling station on I-75 in Valdosta for a number of years, until the oil companies forced all of the independents out. He had a pretty good business with his garage and tow truck and provided a much needed service to travelers headed to Florida from “up North”. The one thing that would drive Uncle Dub into an apoplectic fit was to hear from a customer how their repair would have been done “up North”. His patent answer was, “give me the name of your garage, I’ll have them send a tow”.

Maybe the Georgia legislature can listen to the people they represent through a referendum on an issue rather than take the advice of outsiders like lobbyists. Uncle Dub abides this concept, because, ” he don’t care how you did it up North”, or anywhere else for that matter.

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