Archive for November, 2015

Start-Ups Start Lobbying

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

The revolving door that ushers the political elite in Washington D.C. from their jobs in the federal government to K-Street has started to face competition in recent years from Silicon Valley. Technology companies of all sizes from start-ups to Silicon Valley’s biggest player have begun to attract the top talent from Washington, D.C. Business Insider reports, “Tech companies are gobbling up executives who have the political clout and connections to help build bridges to D.C.” and that “the gulf that once existed between Silicon Valley and DC is growing smaller.” Below are a couple examples of notable D.C. political insiders who have made the move over to Silicon Valley.


  • Jay Carney served as President Obama’s Press Secretary from 2011-2014. He joined Amazon in2015 as Senior Vice President for Global Corporate Affairs.
  • Kevin Martin served as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission from 2005 to 2009. He joined Facebook in 2015 as its Vice President of Mobile and Global Access Policy.
  • Susan Molinari served as a Republican representative from New York where she stayed for seven years. She joined Google in as Vice President of Policy and Public Relations.
  • David Plouffe served as President Obama’s campaign manager in the 2008 election. He joined Uber in 2014, as Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy.

The addition of politically connected executives has led to a change in strategy in Silicon Valley. Mashable reports that after years of being behind the curve in Washington, D.C., “Silicon Valley slowly caught on to the traditional way of doing business with the power elite: Google has spent more than $16 million lobbying Congress and the Obama administration already this year, Facebook is up to nearly $8 million and Twitter, which spends a tiny fraction of that, added three outside firms in the last quarter to assist its nascent two-person lobbying shop.” In fact, the technology industry has so thoroughly embraced lobbying that “while total annual spending on lobbying has decreased slightly over the last five years, Internet companies have tripled their lobbying spending, to $47.5 million, during the same period. The industry now spends just a little less than the auto sector,” according to the New York Times.

Lobbying is also not just restricted to the biggest players in Silicon Valley, startups like personal butler service Hello Alfred have also embraced lobbying as an essential aspect of doing business. Marcela Sapone, CEO of Hello Alfred has said, “We are a young company but we also have to make decisions early that are ethical and business-oriented, and that means engaging in Washington early.” Getting involved in lobbying also doesn’t necessarily mean hiring lobbyists. Leaders from Hello Alfred have “appeard on numerous policy panels and have written op-eds. They have been invited to a White House summit event on the future of labor. And Marcela Sapone, the company’s chief executive, has made two trips to Capitol Hill to urge lawmakers, research organizations and the political press to rethink labor laws for the digital age.”

For technology companies lobbying can serve multiple purposes from simply creating good will with those on the Hill to working with lawmakers on policies and regulations. Whatever the goal, according to Ted Ullyot, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, who is now at Andreessen Horowitz, “For our start-ups, the advice we give is to get in early.”

Presidential Race Update

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

At Lobby Blog we are always on the search for the latest tools to help government relations professionals with the many different facets of their job, including keeping informed of the latest developments from the 2016 Presidential election cycle. With that in mind, this week we would like to introduce you to the Presidential Race Update from Ballotpedia & Columbia Books. The Presidential Race Update is an expertly curated e-newsletter that provides users with daily updates on 2016 presidential candidates. It keeps users up-to-date on what candidates are saying on the issues, where the candidates are appearing next, the latest poll numbers, and more!

The “Presidential Race Update” can be read across a variety of platforms from your phone to your tablet or laptop and within minutes you can be reaching out to members, donors and staff with information and action plans. The e-newsletter comes with three different delivery options:

Internal Memo

  • Hand curated news stories from the experts at Ballotpedia
  • License to distribute to internal staff (includes up to 50 users)

Custom Branded

  • Hand curated news stories from the experts at Ballotpedia
  • License to distribute to full contact list
  • Branding and design of custom newsletter template

Platinum Distributed

  • Hand curated news stories from the experts at Ballotpedia
  • Daily email distribution of custom branded newsletter to up to 50,000 contacts
  • Branding and design of custom newsletter template
  • Monthly usage reporting

We all know keeping up with all the latest 2016 election news is no easy task. This tool is ideal for anyone fighting a busy schedule and who is struggling to stay up to date on all of the news from the campaign trail. According to one chairman of a 501c4 political organization and long-time political activist, the Presidential Race Update is “Absolutely unique! … Makes it possible in 10 minutes a morning to know exactly the key events in the presidential election as a whole and in each candidate’s camp as well.”

For more information or for any questions on the Presidential Race Update you can go to, call 888-265-0600, or email

Lobby Blog will continue to monitor this space and provide insights into the latest tools to help government relations professionals successfully get the job done.

Scoring State Integrity

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

This week Lobby Blog is turning its attention to our 50 states.  The  Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity have recently released the 2015 State Integrity Investigation, a report that grades the states based on the laws and systems they have in place to deter corruption. The investigation found that “in state after state, open records laws are laced with exemptions, and part-time legislators and agency officials engage in glaring conflicts of interests and cozy relationships with lobbyists while feckless, understaffed watchdogs struggle to enforce laws as porous as honeycombs.”

An example of such a loophole can be found in lobbying compliance changes that Lobby Blog has reported on in the past. When reviewing state regulatory changes for The ‘State’ Of Lobbying,  Lobby Blog came across HJR 1009 in Arkansas, “which affects the lobbying arena in the state in several ways, including prohibiting lobbyists from “giving gifts to lawmakers under a new “no cup of coffee rule.”  The State Integrity Investigation found that lobbyists have been able to circumvent this rule because ‘the prohibition does not apply to “food or drink available at a planned activity to which a specific governmental body is invited,” so lobbyists can buy meals as long as they invite an entire legislative committee.’

The overall results from the investigation found a decline in integrity among the states when compared to the last time the investigation was conducted in 2012. Demonstrating a negative trend in results, Alaska achieved the best grade in the nation, with just a C and only two others stated earned better than a D+. Moreover, the State Integrity Investigation found that “in two-thirds of all states, ethics agencies or committees routinely fail to initiate investigations or impose sanctions when necessary, often because they’re unable to do so without first receiving a complaint.”

The investigation measured hundreds of variables to compile transparency and accountability grades for all 50 states. According to the investigation, “The 2015 grades are based on 245 questions that ask about key indicators of transparency and accountability, looking not only at what the laws say, but also how well they’re enforced or implemented. The “indicators” are divided into 13 categories: public access to information, political financing, electoral oversight, executive accountability, legislative accountability, judicial accountability, state budget processes, state civil service management, procurement, internal auditing, lobbying disclosure, state pension fund management and ethics enforcement agencies.”

To keep up-to-date on the latest rules and regulations for lobbying in all 50 states turn look no further than’s State Lobbying Compliance Handbook. It is an action-oriented publication, designed to help you move into states quickly, effectively and without worrying that you’re violating lobbying regulations or using outdated registration or disclosure forms.

Shadow Lobbying and the 2016 Election

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

Lobbyists have come to play a significant role supporting many of the 2016 presidential campaigns through direct donations and fundraising. Lobby Blog has previously reported that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “received more than $600,000 from more than 300 different registered lobbyists and PACs in the first half of 2015” and Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise Super PAC has “brought in $523,325 from lobby firms and $282,850 from 107 lobbyists, according to the Federal Election Commission.” However, this may not be the full story. According to Politico only a fraction of the lobbyists who fundraise for campaigns are reported in the mandatory disclosures from campaigns, once again highlighting the issue of the “unlobbyist” and shadow lobbying.

As previously reported by Lobby Blog, unlobbyists are those who participate in lobbying activities without ever formally registering as a lobbyist. According to the Politico report, “A quarter of the “Hillblazers” who bundled $100,000 or more for Clinton work at lobbying firms or public affairs agencies lobby at the state level or otherwise make their living from influencing the government on behalf of special interests, even though they aren’t themselves registered to lobby Congress. For Bush, 58 of the 342 people who raised at least $17,600 are advocates and operatives linked to the influence industry, although they aren’t reported as federal lobbyists.”

In total, when all donations from all professional influencers are added up, Clinton received at least $5.4 million compared to $3.2 million from registered lobbyists disclosed to the FEC, a difference of $2.2 million dollars. Similarly, when examining donations to the Bush campaign Politico found that he received $1.02 million in total from professional influencers, more than double the $408,000 that was reported from registered lobbyists.

Discussing this issue with Politico Matthew Rumsey, a senior policy analyst at the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation said, “It really speaks to the breadth of the loopholes that exist for D.C. lobbyists: Once you reach a certain point in your career, you never have to register to lobby no matter how much influence you’re exerting.”  Politico underscores this point highlighting Steven W. Farber, president and founding partner of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. According to the report, “He bundled at least $100,000 for Clinton, so he’s listed as a Hillblazer. But he hasn’t registered as a lobbyist since 2008, although he now employs an army of them.” reports that the firm brought in $23,400,000 in lobbying revenue in 2014.

However, not all 2016 presidential candidates have been willing to embrace the support of lobbyists and other professional political influencers. In an interview with Breitbart top Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has said, “I don’t need anybody’s money. I’m not running with anybody’s money. I’m spending my own money. But the lobbyists have — they totally control these politicians. Just take a look, in one of the articles, very recently, I see Bush with the lobbyists. And he’s sitting there with all of these people. They’re totally telling them what to do, like a little puppet. And the same with Hillary, and the same with everybody else.”

As these issue of lobbyists and the 2016 presidential election develop Lobby Blog will continue to monitor the issue and report the latest lobbying news.