I've been a Federal lobbyist since 1998. During that time, I worked with Members of Congress, their staff, key Federal agency decision makers and 3 Presidential administrations (Clinton, Bush and Obama). I worked on a number of high level issues for clients and fought many legislative battles on Capitol Hill.
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The first thing a do with prospective clients is to consult with them to see if what they want to accomplish can be done in the current Congress and political environment. If I believe I can help them, they sign a retainer agreement. If they want to propose or change legislation, we draft model legislation and find a sponsor in Congress to introduce it in the House and the Senate. If they want federal money, we determine whether it's better to go the appropriation route or the Federal grant route. If it makes sense to accomplish what they want by going through the Federal agency route, then we help them do that. If we get the client's proposed bill introduced, then we work to get it passed in the subcommittee, then the committee then the House of Representatives. The it goes to the Senate and the whole process starts all over again.
Interesting question. I actually started from scratch with no relations on Capitol Hill. I learned the legislative process, learned what Members of Congress were on the various committees that mattered to me and started setting meeting with their staff. I built relationships along the way; some of which I still have today. I strongly believe that knowing the process is more important having relationships. People come and go on Capitol Hill, but the process rarely changes. With hard work --- and a friendly attitude, you can start from scratch and build relationships along the way to success.
Good question -- there have been quite a few. The most recent was a client who wanted me to get Congress to pass a law that required them to read legislation before voting on it. That itself isn't bad, but he also wanted a clause in the legislation that required Members of Congress to take a 10 question quiz on EVERY bill they vote on to prove they read the bill.
None at all. That’s not to say that there are no shady deals that go on, there are still some of those. They rarely happen, but they’re there. After the Jack Abramoff scandal, where a Member of Congress actually went to jail, Members of Congress and staff got scared quick. Lobbyists did too, to a lesser extent. Quid pro quo deals are not as blatant or as frequent as they once were; but they happen.
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It’s not necessary to be a lawyer, but it is very helpful. A big part of the job of a lobbyist is to understand policy and the way it goes from an idea to proposed legislation to committee debate to passage. That can be learned without going to law school. Also, Members of Congress all have Legislative Counsel who handle the legality of legislation. It’s more important for lobbyists to be persuasive and an advocate for their client --- which are similar to the skills lawyers have.
I will not lobby for anything illegal or unethical. However, everything else is fair game. Under the Constitution, people have a right to petition the government to redress their grievances. Most people don’t have the time or the necessary knowledge to effectively petition the government. That’s where lobbyists come in. I don’t need to personally believe in something or support it to effectively lobby for it.
Repeal of 3% Withholding Tax for Federal Contractors (2 years) Temporary Protected Status for Colombian Nationals (1 1/2 years) Resolution Recognizing National Surveyors Week (1 year)
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