Archive for April, 2014

May the Least Worst Site Win

Monday, April 28th, 2014 by Geoffrey Lyons

IMAGINE IF YOUR organization’s website received an award for showing “signs of improvement.”  Though “still weak,” it’s beginning to provide “basic” information.  This less-than-cheering diagnosis comes from the Congressional Management Foundation’s 113th Congress Gold Mouse Awards, which recognizes House and Senate offices (including committees) for effective websites and citizen engagement on social media.

The awards shine a welcome spotlight on an abysmal set of sites, some of which are utterly unnavigable.  The issue would be hilarious were access to lawmakers anything less than elemental to a healthy democracy.  By praising those few Hill offices who work hard to ensure their websites are functional and inviting, the CMF brings us a step closer to a day when they’ll all be like that.

In future editions of the awards, it would be nice if the CMF could draw attention to those sites in most need of repair (National Journal has since taken down its list of the worst committee websites).  That ought to really get people talking.

History Matters

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 by James Cameron

THOSE WHO CANNOT REMEMBER the past…cannot lobby effectively. That’s why Lobbyists.info recently unveiled its latest feature: historical links between staffers, federal lobbyists, and members of Congress going back to 1987.  Since lobbyists’ connections to lawmakers can matter just as much as their skills and experience, this is a crucial resource.

Why are these historical links so valuable?  For one, lawmakers are staying on the Hill for longer than they used to.  A report by the Federation of American Scientists found that the average years of service for members of the 113th Congress is 9.1 for the House and 10.2 for the Senate.  If you want to lobby on a piece of legislation before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and a lobbyist you’re thinking of hiring was a staffer for Henry Waxman in 1993, then that historical link may play a crucial role in picking the right advocate.

With the revolving door between staffers and lobbyists spinning at cyclone speed, the links between former staffers and Congress have become vital to understanding the influence game.  It’s increasingly clear that understanding these historical links can give advocates a leg up on the competition.

McCutcheon’s Effect on Lobbyists

Monday, April 7th, 2014 by Geoffrey Lyons

WHATEVER ONE’S VIEWS on the Supreme Court’s ruling in McCutcehon v. FEC, there’s one incontrovertable fact: lobbyists will suffer.

According to CNN, “lobbyists fret that the ruling could mean they’ll be on the hook to hand over even more campaign cash to lawmakers.”

POLITICO added that these lobbyists “are already inundated by fundraising calls from lawmakers, email solicitations and events that fill their calendars for breakfasts, lunches and dinners in the run-up to the quarterly deadlines.”

The Hill called the decision “groan-inducing” for lobbyists, noting that the aggregate limits had until now acted as “a ready-made excuse for turning down fundraising appeals.”

Of course, not everyone is extending their pity.  Huffington Post blogger Jason Linkins bitterly remarked that these complaints teach only that “there is no greater disadvantage in life than having all the advantages.”

Yet virtually nobody is challenging the fact that lobbyists will be expected to pony up a larger share of their income in the years ahead.  Perhaps a collective reluctance will help minimize the damage.

20,391…

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 by James Cameron

…the number of GR professionals in D.C., according to data collected for Lobbyists.info.  This makes the nation’s capital the number one city in the U.S. for lobbyists.

Two D.C. suburbs take a distant second and third.  Alexandria and Arlington, Va., boast 1,272 and 1,258 GR professionals, respectively.

The drop-off is considerable between No. 4 New York (1,162) and No. 5 Chicago (299).  Rounding out the top 10 are Sacramento, Calif. (292); Boston (279); Bethesda, Md., (255, and another D.C. suburb); Austin Texas (248); and McClean, Va. (214).  Overall there are 1,884 U.S. cities where at least one GR professional is located.

More state capitals that make the top 50: Atlanta (166); Indianapolis (148); Harrisburg (147); Albany (147); Tallahassee (128); Phoenix (114); Raleigh (122); Madison (105); Lansing (101); Richmond (92); Baton Rouge (78); Annapolis (75); Oklahoma City (74); Nashville (69); and St. Paul (67).