Ask a Lobbyist: Wednesday Morning Quarterbacking
Every week, our Anonymous Lobbyist answers your questions about how laws get made and why they probably shouldn't. If you have a question about the dirty business of doing business in Washington, ask her.
This week: The elections thing the other night -- how did that go?
A question of etiquette: For staffers with whom you work regularly, what is the appropriate way to acknowledge their boss has just lost his/her re-election bid? Is a condolence email acceptable, or should one send flowers and a card? Or should one just write them off completely?
Well, that mostly depends on whether you received their resume in your email Inbox today. If they've decided to sell out and become your competition, well, then screw any acknowledgment of any kind, unless you already know your favorite staffer is an amoral whore and you want to hire them -- but, generally, those people sent you their resumes at least a week ago, if not in September.
On the other hand, if you haven't seen a resume yet, expect your favorite staffer to get Hoovered up by another Congressional office/Committee/the Administration. In which case, screw flowers and cards and offer drinks/lunch/Wizards tickets while they can still accept them.
What will you do differently today, that you wouldn't have otherwise done if the Republicans retained control of both houses of Congress?
Well, I would've been hungover from election night parties anyway. So, you know, that's all the same -- coming into work late, wearing my glasses instead of contacts and avoiding my talkative colleagues during my many coffee runs.
Actually, now that I think about it, not much about my day today will really be much different at all, other than that my idiot boss will be running around freaking out because he doesn't know anything about our employer or lobbying or Washington other than what Grover tells him to know. But he's always running around spouting some sort of idiocy anyway, so I'm just going to hope he's way more hungover than me and holed up in his own office until the nausea subsides.
But in terms of what I'll be doing today, I'll be prepping for a lame duck, which I would've been doing anyway, and hoping against hope that the election results won't plunge the Congress into full-blown idiocy during it, though I'm sure they will. Any decent lobbyist has already been playing nice with the Ranking Members and Dem leadership for months, if not just all along because it's the smart thing to do, and I consider myself a decent lobbyist.
How many votes does the average lobbyist control and do you each have special little buses to deliver said voters to the polls?
Ha! That's funny. Like I left the DC metro area today or even recently? Most lobbyists only care about actual voters only marginally more than their elected representatives do. You're confusing me with a political operative, all of whom were probably stuck shuttling around smelly old people in rental vans all day yesterday.
I don't control any actual votes, but every lobbyist generally includes some reference to the number of employees/members/suppliers in a given district in their pitch to a Congress Member, if they can. Not that anyone thinks I control anyone's votes -- Hill staff are smart enough to know better, and usually did their smelly-old-people-van-duty at some point so they know from experience -- but it's a way of suggesting that what I'm arguing for/against could affect real constituents and not just me and my employer.
Will tougher lobbying reforms somehow actually occur now that old Nancy P. is poised to be Speaker? Would the effect on the whole lobbyist system basically be zilch, thus proving this all more PR BS?
I am sure that Nancy will have to do something on lobbying reform, now that she's even gone and mentioned it in her victory speech last night. So, I would expect more paperwork and for Washington restaurants to have to have more $20 lunches on the menu if that's the new limit. But, most staffers don't sell out for $50 lunches anyway, and whatever lobbying rules Pelosi has been talking about would restrict environmental and labor lobbyists as much as it would us corporate bloodsuckers. They may have (publicly) kept their mouths shut, but that doesn't mean they haven't pointed that shit out to her.
The real problem is that most Americans don't think that Congress members sell out for 2 $50lunches/year or the occasional game ticket, and they don't. Abramoffian shenanigans aside, there are so many of
those floating around that they're not going to sway anyone. However, most Americans seem to think that their elected representatives do sell out for sweet, sweet campaign cash -- and you don't hear Pelosi calling for campaign finance reform, do you? $10,000 political donations sound large enough and shady enough to be bribes to most Americans, but they're like crack to legislators and lobbyists are often the dealers. I don't expect the pace of fund-raising events to slow a whit next year, and if they want our money, we've got to be employed. Score one for us leeches in the Pelosi Congress.