Lobbyists.info’s Annual “12 Days of Lobbying”

December 16th, 2014 by Matthew Barnes
Lobbyists.info
Lobbyists.info’s Annual “12 Days of Lobbying”
The American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition may not be able to find you a partridge, but they can definitely point you in the direction of a pear tree as they continue their mission “to educate and represent to Members of Congress and other policy makers about issues important to growers and processors of America’s processed fruit and vegetable industry.”
I’m not sure about turtledoves, but Unilever, the parent company of Dove, has made significant lobbying efforts this year. Unilever has lobbied Congress on a variety of issues including chemicals, agriculture and taxes.
Having a hard time finding those three French hens this year? Look no further than the professionals at the United States Poultry and Egg Association, who will be able to answer any and all of your poultry related questions.
Bill Anaya, Robert C. Jones, Elise Paeffgen and Bruce Pasfield have certainly been busy calling birds. All four have lobbied for Mohawk Industries, Inc. on behalf of Alston & Bird, LLP.
Its five rings may not all be golden, but the Special Olympics, which employs Potomac Strategic Development Company, LLC to lobby on its behalf, sure deserves them for the incredible work they do.
Laurence S.S. Wildgoose II is Sen. Bill Nelson’s (D-Fl.) Director of Scheduling, but with the Senate’s busy schedule I am sure you won’t find him “a-laying” down on the job.
The National Parks Conservation Association lobbies for the protection and preservation of our many fantastic national parks, ensuring all seven swans are able to swim in the pristine Reflecting Pool and Tidal Basin.
The National Milk Producers Federation supports the “eight maids-a-milking” and 31,992 other dairy producers in the United States with the aim of “improving the economic interests of dairy farmers, thus assuring the nation’s consumers an adequate supply of pure, wholesome, and nutritious milk and dairy products.”
Dance/USA seeks to advance the art form of dance by addressing the needs, concerns and interests of professional dance by lobbying on a range of issues from appropriations to taxes. Join them and the nine ladies, and enjoy spending some time dancing.
Leaping to the task, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP lobbies the government on the automotive industry and energy issues for one of its clients, Lord Corporation.
DLA Piper may not be piping out a tune, but if what your true love really needs is help lobbying on a myriad of issues, they have got you covered.
On the 12th day of lobbying, we hope you have a great holiday and enjoy listening to all 12 drummers drumming and all the other musicians whose First Amendment rights and intellectual property The Recording Industry Association of America lobbies to protect.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS from everyone at Lobbyists.info!
For more information on the lobbying industry visit www.Lobbyists.info.
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Lobbying For Labels

December 11th, 2014 by Matthew Barnes

JUST LABEL IT, A GROUP which advocates for the labeling of genetically engineered foods, has hired its first lobbying firm, Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen Bingel & Thomas. According to the firm’s lobbying disclosure form it will help Just Label It with “support [for a] legal petition to the FDA calling for the mandatory labeling of GE foods.”

The hire of Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen Bingel & Thomas is most timely; the House Energy and Commerce Committee is holding a hearing on the Food and Drug Administration’s role in regulating GMO food ingredients today.  The focus of the hearing is on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s current “authority over foods from genetically engineered plants and what the agency has learned about the safety of such products”  according to a letter from the Majority Committee Staff to the Members of the Subcommittee on Health.

Congress has shown an increasing interest in addressing the GMO labeling debate. In April, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) introduced H.R. 4432, Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014. Source Watch reports that “the bill would prohibit states from passing their own state-wide laws to label genetically modified organisms (GMOs), prevent states from ensuring that GMOs can’t be labeled as “natural,” and make “voluntary labeling” the continuing federal standards.”

The Associated Press has reported that “Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said he is concerned that labeling could be “inherently misleading.” Rep. G.K Butterfield of North Carolina, a Democrat who represents a heavily agricultural district, said he is worried the costs of labeling would be passed on to consumers.”

Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen Bingel & Thomas certainly have their work cut out for them. They face opposition from other powerful and experienced outside influence groups who oppose the need for mandatory labeling of GE products. The “Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and dozens of other food groups,” have all come out in opposition of measures introduced by states which attempt to create mandatory GMO labeling, reports Politico.

A New Revolving Door in Washington?

December 3rd, 2014 by James Cameron

WE’VE FREQUENTLY WRITTEN IN this space about the revolving door between Congress and K Street, but it would seem there’s a new revolving door in town. The New York Times reported Monday that some banks and Wall Street firms routinely pay executives special bonuses and compensation packages if they receive a high-level government job. The Times article comes in the wake of a POLITICO report noting that President Obama’s nominee for Treasury undersecretary, Antonio Weiss, would receive a multi-million dollar bonus from his firm, Lazard Ltd. if his nomination is confirmed.

Is this just a sneaky way for Wall Street to broaden its influence in Washington, or is it a way to encourage qualified executives to go into public service? For the progressive wing of the Democratic party, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the answer is very clearly the former. The Hill notes that although Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have formally opposed Weiss’s nomination, it seems likely that broader opposition will emerge as confirmation hearings approach in 2015. Indeed, POLITICO reports that Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) has also voiced his disapproval of the nomination.

Weiss is far from the first Wall Street insider to land a top position in the Obama administration, however.  As The Hill notes, SEC Chairman Mary Jo White spent a portion of her career as an attorney representing major financial firms and banks such as Morgan Stanley and Bank of America. Likewise, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was a top executive at Citigroup before joining the administration, and several other prominent executive branch officials have strong ties to Wall Street.

But should having ties to the industry an agency is tasked with regulating automatically disqualify a candidate? In an article for the New York Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin argues that it should not. In fact, Sorkin asserts that the most talented and qualified candidates, like Antonio Weiss, often come from executive-level positions and should be encouraged to pursue public service.

While it’s likely unavoidable that executives will be appointed to senior executive branch positions, bonuses such as the one Weiss is purportedly due should he be nominated give the appearance of attempting to influence the federal government in an underhanded fashion. According to The Hill, firms are already doing away with such bonuses. While the eventual outcome remains to be seen, it seems likely that the practice will gradually diminish, given the outcry from progressives over Weiss’s nomination.

Is Your Website Advocating for You?

November 25th, 2014 by Matthew Barnes

Join Lobbyists.info and speaker Peter LaMotte on December 17, 2014 2:00-3:30 pm ET for a webinar  on “Is Your Website Advocating for You: Tactics to Maximize Your Legislative Impact on the Web.” This webinar provides a fantastic crash course for mastering web tactics that can fundamentally transform your existing online presence.

Peter LaMotte is Senior Vice President & Chair, Digital Communications Practice at LEVICK. He leads the award-winning digital team, bringing the richest, most diverse digital talent and resources to bear on behalf of firm clients worldwide. A proven digital marketing and strategy leader, Mr. LaMotte is well-known for his ability to help clients drive adoption, change and understanding through unique combinations of digital strategies and channels. His client experience includes success with dozens of diverse brands including AARP, NEA, Sony, Kraft, Colgate Palmolive, Yahoo!, and Audio-Technica.

Keystone and K Street

November 19th, 2014 by Matthew Barnes

THE SENATE FAILED TO PASS LEGISLATION which would approve the construction of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline. The bill was narrowly defeated 59-41 in a vote Tuesday. The legislation needed to reach the 60 vote supermajority threshold in order for it to be passed.

The failure of the legislation to pass could be a fatal blow to Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) who faces an uphill battle in her reelection campaign which will be decided by a December 6 run-off election. Her challenger, Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and his campaign wasted no time in using the bill’s defeat writing in an email, “Senator Mary Landrieu’s failure to pass the Keystone XL Pipeline this evening is a perfect snapshot of her time as Chair of the Energy Committee – a failure…Conversely, Dr. Cassidy passed the Keystone pipeline out of the House last week with wide bi-partisan support.”

A failed re-election bid by Sen. Landrieu would be another blow to the Democratic Party, which suffered a disastrous Mid-Term Election cycle in which Republicans won the majority in the Senate and have so far gained 8 seats in the Senate. Democrats now have only 44 seats in the Senate including Sen. Landrieu, while the Republicans have 53.

The change in control of the Senate has also brought about with it some changes on K Street. Lobbyists with ties to prominent Republicans stand to gain significant influence in the new congress. According to The Hill, “Lobbyists whose stock is about to skyrocket include those with ties to new leadership on the Banking, Finance, Judiciary, Commerce and Energy committees, all of which business groups will be watching closely in the next Congress.”

Moreover, the soon-to-be Majority Leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has indicated, that when he takes over the leadership of the Senate, he will make its “committees more active, thereby making chairmen more powerful — and connected K Streeters even more valuable.”

Political Climate Change

November 12th, 2014 by James Cameron

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION  IS stepping up its efforts to combat climate change, and the GOP and industry lobbyists may not be able to do much to halt it. POLITICO reports that President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to carbon emissions targets for the next twenty years, and that the United States will spend considerable funds to aid developing countries in coping with climate change.

GOP leadership, of course, are none too pleased. The Washington Post notes that both Mitch McConnell and John Boehner have blasted the deal, calling it “job-crushing” and a “crusade against affordable, reliable energy.” Despite the incoming Republican majority in the Senate, it’s unlikely that Congress will be able to significantly impact the deal or the EPA’s proposed climate rules due to Obama’s veto power, although POLITICO notes that the GOP may be able to slow parts of the administration’s climate change agenda.

Industry lobbyists also expressed concerns about the Obama administration’s climate policies, in particular the EPA’s carbon dioxide restrictions on power plants. An industry-backed report claims that the rule could cost the energy industry $366 billion. The industry’s stauch opposition does seem to be having some effect; Bloomberg Businessweek reported that the EPA is now considering extending the timeline of emissions reduction from 2020 to 2029.

On the flip side, the clean energy industry as well as climate change advocates is encouraging Obama to hold his ground. In a letter organized by Environment America, groups such as the Solar Energy Industries Association and SunEdison praised the EPA rules, calling them an important step to reduce emissions and usher in an era of clean, renewable energy.

With an upcoming GOP majority in both chambers of Congress and staunch opposition from the energy industry, the fight against climate change has a bumpy road ahead, but in the short term it appears that its opponents can do little to stop the Obama administration’s agenda.

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The Professional Women in Advocacy Conference will take place Nov. 19-21 at the Capital Hilton in Washington. For details, click here. http://www.associationtrends.com/event/professional-women-in-advocacy-conference

A Red November

November 5th, 2014 by Matthew Barnes

Despite many close races in the 2014 Mid -Term Elections, Republicans have exceeded expectations. The GOP has become the majority party in the Senate with 52 out of 100 seats and added cushioning to their control of the House with 243 out of 435 seats so far. The Republican Party will seek to increase its control of the Senate on December 6th, when a run-off vote is scheduled for the Louisiana Senate race between Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

The competitiveness of many of the elections, POLITICO reports, drove some candidates, such as (then) Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), to enact an “all hands on deck” approach for the final stages of the campaign, reaching out to his extended network of allies and former staffers seeking as many volunteers as possible. Many of the people who answered Sen. McConnell’s call to volunteer, such as Hunter Bates, are former members of Sen. McConnell’s staff and are now lobbyists. Mr. Bates was formerly Chief of Staff to Sen. McConnell before co-founding the lobbying firm Republic Consulting.

Nevertheless, the effect the resounding GOP victory in this election will have on the lobbying industry remains to be seen. However, lobbyists with ties to prominent Republicans, like Steve Clark (founding partner at ClarkGeduldigCranford & Nielsen), are very optimistic about the future, saying “If the Republicans take the Senate in November, we feel like our firm, with key House and Senate ties, is as well-positioned as any.”

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The Professional Women in Advocacy Conference will take place Nov. 19-21 at the Capital Hilton in Washington. For details, click here. http://www.associationtrends.com/event/professional-women-in-advocacy-conference

GOP Majority: Scary for Dems, A Boon for K Street

October 29th, 2014 by James Cameron

A POTENTIAL GOP TAKEOVER of the Senate may scare Democrats more than anything Halloween could bring, but  firms on K Street are seeing dollar signs. POLITICO writes that Republican lobbyists have spent eight years in a tertiary role thanks to Democratic control of the Senate, but that may soon change.

The New York Times estimates that there’s a 66% chance that the GOP re-takes the Senate, while FiveThirtyEight projects a 62.3% chance. Whichever model you use, things are looking up for the Republican party, and GOP lobbyists are salivating. Republican-centric firms such as the Nickles Group and Crossroads  Strategies would certainly enjoy a boost in revenue, as well as individual Republican lobbyists and particularly those with ties to GOP leadership. But a Republican takeover of the Senate would impact the entire landscape of K Street.

Firms that aren’t explicitly Republican are still making plans to deal with a Republican majority. As CQ Roll Call notes in its Beltway Insiders Blog, firms would likely hire up to cater to the new majority, but existing Republican employees will also enjoy greater prominence in the K Street power structure.

But it’s not just Republicans who would benefit from a shift in the balance of power. POLITICO makes the point that any change on K Street brings in new business as clients attempt to get a feel for the new regime. Indeed, Roll Call reports that even the possibility of a GOP majority is enough to bring in new business as clients attempt to gain an edge even before election day.

While the possibility of Republicans gaining a majority in both chambers is a scary possibility for Democrats, K Street appears poised to enjoy a hefty bump in business should things go well for the GOP next week.

Battling Ebola On K Street

October 22nd, 2014 by Matthew Barnes

THE SPREAD OF EBOLA from Africa to the United States and Europe has become an issue of great concern for governments and health officials across the globe. The Obama administration reacted to the situation, tasking the newly appointed “Ebola Czar” Ron Klain to coordinate the U.S. Government’s response to the spread of the deadly virus.

Many lobbyists have also joined in the battle against the virus. The Hill has reported that approximately a dozen organizations have already begun lobbying efforts around the disease. To many, like Dr. Larry Brilliant, a senior adviser to the Skoll Global Threats Fund, the current outbreak of the virus has demonstrated our need for new technologies and practices in combatting the spread of infectious diseases in our increasingly globalized world.

On Monday it was announced that Squire Patton Boggs signed a new deal with Hemispherx Biopharma Inc. to represent the company to officials both domestically and abroad. Hemispherx has developed two experimental anti-viral drugs, Ampligen and AlferonN, which it wants to test against Ebola virus. Similarly, medical machinery company Zimek has enlisted the help of lobbying firm Dentons US to assist with promoting its infection control and biohazard technologies.

The outbreak, which began in March, originated in Western Africa and has, to this point, claimed the lives of approximately 4,500 people according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As the Ebola outbreak develops, debate on Capitol Hill will continue on the allocation of funds for both the research and combatting of the disease.  Congressional action on Ebola has significant implications for both the pharmaceutical industry and their lobbyists as firms are increasingly called upon to lobby both Congress and federal agencies like the National Institute of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

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The Professional Women in Advocacy Conference will take place Nov. 19-21 at the Capital Hilton in Washington. For details, click here. http://www.associationtrends.com/event/professional-women-in-advocacy-conference

 

Uber, Taxis Get Lift From Lobbying

October 15th, 2014 by James Cameron

RIDE-SHARING COMPANY UBER has been in the news a lot in recent months, and not in a good way. The company has faced backlash from taxi drivers, competitors, and entire countries over what are seen as predatory business practices and attempts to dodge local regulations. And like any embattled company, Uber is upping its lobbying efforts.

In August, Uber hired former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe as Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy. This high-profile hire sends a clear statement that Uber intends to go on a legislative offensive. Uber is also hiring up for overseas lobbying; the BBC reported last month that Uber has hired a lobbyist in response to Germany’s ban of the service.

But the opposition is also shoring up its advocacy game. Cab drivers in the Washington, DC metropolitan area have rapidly joined unions and formed coalitions to combat Uber’s influence in the area. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that cab drivers dramatically outspent Uber at the local level by more than 3,500 to 1. As the Sunlight Foundation notes, this may explain why at least 12 states and the District have attempted to regulate or limit Uber and other ride-sharing services.

It’s clear that the local lobbying battle between Uber and taxi companies will only intensify. It remains to be seen whether the fight will extend to the federal level, but Uber’s hiring of David Plouffe indicates that the company is prepared should Congress and the federal government begin to weigh in on ride-sharing services.

The Lobbying Economy’s Shadow

October 9th, 2014 by Linnae O'Flahavan

IN A VOX ARTICLE LAST WEEK, researcher and reporter Andrew Prokop writes about a new research study done by Tim LaPira, a political scientist at James Madison University, which used the Lobbyists.info database to calculate the true lobbying economy, including a massive number of unregistered lobbyists. LaPira’s research found that less than half of federal lobbyists were legally registered to lobby, suggesting that the $3.3 billion officially spent on lobbying in 2012 was likely much closer to $7 billion.

LaPira and his team pulled out a random sample of people with federal lobbying-related jobs from the full Lobbyists.info catalog, and worked to recreate those people’s resumes using Google. Once it was determined which of those people were engaged in federal public policy, LaPira calculated the percentage of those who were registered to lobby, which turned out to be a bit less than half of those in the sample. LaPira’s research confirms what many already suspected – that there is a massive underground “shadow lobbying” force at work.

This shadow lobbying force may exist for a variety of reasons. The Center for Responsive Politics counts the number of lobbying disclosure forms filled out, but as LaPira argues in a post for the Sunlight Foundation, the LDA’s definition of a lobbyist is too narrow, and federal lobbyists are able to act as “strategic policy consultants” or “historical advisers” without ever having to register. Not to mention, a number of other factors may be cause for the current underground lobbying trend, including the Obama administration’s efforts to slow down the “revolving door,” new innovations regarding public relations strategies, digital advertising, the defeat of SOPA in 2012, and advances in social media.

Kate Ackley, in an article for Roll Call, suggests that one major cause for the decline in registered lobbyists is the lack of enforcement of lobbying laws. It’s true that Lobbying Disclosure Act violations are rarely prosecuted, although recently the Office of Congressional Ethics referred one case to the District of Columbia’s U.S. Attorney’s Office for failing to register. It’s possible that this signals a new era of harsher penalties and more frequent prosecutions, although it could remain in isolated incident. Understanding the reasons behind shadow lobbying and the de-registration of many federal lobbyists is difficult and complicated, but nevertheless the numbers show a trending increase in unregistered lobbying.

LaPira’s study produced well-researched quantifiable results confirming that despite a decline in the number of registered federal lobbyists, the lobbying economy is booming. While the results are not surprising, they are extremely helpful in better understanding the underground world of shadow lobbying. LaPira’s subsequent paper, co-authored by Herschel Thomas, describes his research methodology and results in even better detail. Here at Lobbyblog we are pleased to see the Lobbyists.info database put to such good use!

A Thirsty State Turns to Congress

October 1st, 2014 by James Cameron

AS CALIFORNIA’S RECORD-WORST DROUGHT continues, local municipalities, farmers, and environmental groups are finding ways to make waves on Capitol Hill. CBS reported Tuesday that 2014 will end as the driest year in the state since 1977—the record-keeping year for water watchers ends in September—and the drought will extend into its fourth winter. As conditions worsen, groups are turning to Congress in an attempt to make themselves heard.

Central to the legislative fight over California’s water is whether environmental restrictions on water use under the Endangered Species Act are partially to blame for water shortages.  At least six bills have been introduced that would loosen restrictions designed to protect fish in the San Joaquin River Delta. However, officials in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others contend that the ESA has had little impact on water supplies and that the cause of shortages is almost exclusively the drought.

As the Center for Responsive Politics reports, Westlands Water District, the largest in the nation, has spent $600,000 among four different lobbying firms in an effort to secure more water for its farmers, but environmental groups like Earthjustice point out that agriculture already consumes 80% of the state’s water supply.

While Local municipalities might not have that kind of lobbying clout, but the Fresno Bee notes that at least seventeen cities and counties in California passed resolutions  urging Congressional action on the drought. These resolutions were presented before a Congressional hearing earlier this month.

California’s Congressional representatives have been pressing their colleagues to take legislative action to mitigate the drought’s impact, but so far Congress has dragged its feet on the issue. With the August recess just ending and November looming, it seems unlikely that significant legislative action happening anytime soon, even as California closes out one of its driest years ever.

Fitbit Lobbying Shows Immediate Turnaround

September 24th, 2014 by Linnae O'Flahavan

FITBIT, A HEALTH-TRACKING FITNESS COMPANY that sells electronic wristbands enabling users to track physical activity, food intake, and weight, has hired major K Street lobbying firepower after privacy concerns were raised by Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) last month, reports The Hill. Schumer, who is chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, publicly voiced concerns that the highly detailed data stored by Fitbit could be shared with outside organizations due to inadequate privacy laws and Fitbit’s weak privacy policy. Fitbit immediately responded to criticism by hiring Heather Podesta + Partners that same day, according to lobbying disclosure forms, and changes are already being seen.

Fitbit has already updated its privacy policy – a change warmly and publicly received by Senator Schumer – and now will only share collected data with third parties when legally required to do so, or when the customer has chosen to allow it. This marks a significant change in privacy policy. Although Fitbit has stated all along that it does not sell user data, it declined to comment on whether or not it was sharing data with third parties without compensation. Fitbit has drastically toughened its own privacy policy, and although it claims the timing was a coincidence and that the policy was already being updated, the fact remains that Heather Podesta + Partners was hired directly after Senator Schumer’s criticism, and that major changes are being made.

While Schumer’s remarks seem to have pushed Fitbit into action, it is unclear whether or not other electronic fitness tracking companies will toughen their own privacy policies, or if tougher privacy laws will result. This is not the first time Fitbit has faced criticism regarding privacy policies, after an embarrassing situation back in 2011, but its lobbying efforts seem to be working rapidly and effectively.

NFL Prepares for Rough Legislative Road

September 17th, 2014 by James Cameron

THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE has been blasted across the board for its handling of Ray Rice’s domestic abuse of his then-fiancée Janay Palmer, as well as for how it dealt with other incidents of domestic violence among its players. Obviously, the NFL has mobilized its PR department as well as hiring staff specifically to deal with domestic violence issues, but it has also attempted to shore up its lobbying wing; The Hill reported Tuesday that the NFL has hired a new top lobbyist.

However, as POLITICO notes, lobbying for an embattled organization, even one as prominent and popular as the NFL, isn’t the most attractive prospect for a government relations professional. New NFL Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs Cynthia Hogan will have to deal with a litany of high-profile legislative issues beyond the Ray Rice case, including the FCC’s review of the sports blackout rule, the controversy over the Washington Redskins’ name and logo, and recent calls to revoke the NFL’s tax-exempt status. Further, POLITICO reports that despite the NFL’s prominence, the pay for the position was thought to be insufficient given the pressure and level of seniority the NFL is seeking for the job.

Despite the immense challenge and pressure Hogan is likely to face, her hire may prove to be a boon for the league. Hogan was a staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee with then-Senator Joe Biden and helped write the Violence Against Women Act, one of the strongest laws against domestic abuse. This gives her significant credibility to deal with the Ray Rice scandal on the Hill.

It’s likely, given the numerous high-stakes legislative issues that the NFL is facing, that the league will also continue to spend significantly on outside lobbying. According to data from Lobbyists.info, the NFL has spent more than $2.5 million on lobbying since 2012, with $590,000 in the first two quarters of 2014 alone. Given the Ray Rice scandal and mounting pressure on other issues, it seems probable that lobbying expenditures in the second half of 2014 will be even greater.

It remains to be seen if the NFL can weather the legislative and PR disasters of 2014 and regain credibility with fans, women’s groups, legislators, and the media. Although Cynthia Hogan’s hire is a step in the right direction, it’s unclear if the NFL will be able to stem the mounting tide of harmful legislative issues.

Advocacy groups rally public on net neutrality

September 10th, 2014 by James Cameron

ON THE TOPIC OF NET NEUTRALITY, the American public is anything but. POLITICO reported today that the debate has generated more than 1,477,301 public comments, more than Janet Jackson’s accidental exposure during the 2004 Super Bowl, the previous record-holder.

As POLITICO reports, many of these public comments are from form letters created by advocacy groups. Meanwhile, website such as Netflix and Reddit have organized an “internet slowdown day” on September 9th to illustrate the perils of allowing ISPs to create internet “fast lanes” which allocate more bandwidth to companies that are willing to pay.

According to the Daily Dot, ISPs opposed to net neutrality have spent more than 75 million dollars since 2003 lobbying against it, while advocacy groups and companies on the other side have spent a shade over 25 million. It would appear that advocacy groups attempting to guide the public debate in their favor rather than trying to influence lawmakers. Given that the FCC is a regulatory body, this strategy makes sense, and with the majority of the record-breaking 1.4 million comments on the issue in favor of net neutrality, it appears to be working.

Despite the lobbying advantage that ISPs are currently enjoying, tech companies in favor of net neutrality have massive funds and political cachet that they have yet to fully bring to bear on the issue. According to The Hill, tech companies and advocacy groups have spent millions on lobbying Congress but are growing increasingly frustrated with Congressional inaction on key issues such as net neutrality. With no end to gridlock in sight, these groups may begin withholding substantial contributions from lawmakers they deem inactive or in opposition to their goals. Although the eventual fate of net neutrality remains to be seen, if tech companies bring more substantial lobbying resources to bear, we may see the influence game swing in their favor.