Ring Trial Highlights Public Opinion of Lobbying

As former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring, who is accused of bribery, moves to the jury selection phase of his retrial, federal Judge Ellen Huvelle is allowing the jury selection team to ask some interesting questions of prospective jurors.

Though it’s not unusual to ask jurors of their political beliefs should the trial relate to a political matter, in this case the jurors are being asked their opinions of the profession of lobbying as a whole. The seven-part question that’s drawing attention asks:

“48. Which of the following, if any, fits with your view of lobbying? Answer either yes or no.

  • Lobbying is the exercise of the democratic right of American industries, businesses, and individuals to influence lawmaking, government policy and decision making that affects their interests.
  • Lobbying is influence peddling on behalf of wealthy people or businesses.
  • Lobbying, whether on behalf of rich people, the middle class, or poor people, should be prohibited.
  • Lobbying can help ensure that government officials make decisions that are in the best interests of the United States.
  • Lobbying is a fancy term for trying to get government officials to do what the lobbyist wants even if it is not good for the country.
  • Lobbying is paying off politicians and government officials to get them to do something.
  • Lobbying is legitimate business.
  • Lobbying is a necessary part of democratic society based on the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

One wonders if the same would be asked if a truck driver or fire fighter stood accused. (And as a sign of the times, they’re also being asked if they tweet or have a Blackberry). Ring’s trial is expected to last until the end of November.

A post from the Blog of Legal Times has the whole questionnaire that jurors were required to fill out.  Read more about Kevin Ring in our archives.

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