The Male-Female Lobbyist Mating Dance

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: Men on Capitol Hill might be sexist; Earth might revolve around the sun.

As a general rule, do female lobbyists tend to be better than your average pork-tummy male counterpart?

Better at what? Attracting certain kinds of attention? Sure. I won't pretend that it's not a little easier for me to get a Member's attention at a reception than it is for one of the hundreds of middle-aged, grey-haired balding lobbyists I know. But, I don't know that gender (or attractiveness) makes anyone inherently better at their job, and mine can actually make mine more difficult. I mean, I might be able to catch someone's eye, but there are so many sexists up on the Hill that I know some won't take me seriously at all. I can't go play golf, or have a beer somewhere with someone without the risk of a very serious perception problem (at a minimum). I'm not going to be able to connect with a middle-aged or elderly man (which, let's face it, most Members are) by talking about my wife or my religion or my kids or whatever. So in most cases, I'm already starting from a deficit compared to some of my male colleagues and I'm very conscious of that. So, like many women in male-dominated environments, I try to work twice as hard and be twice as educated on an issue as any male colleague because of that perceived deficit. I don't take my ability to be effective at my job for granted in the way that some people do, and so maybe and my female colleagues and I do end up better, but not just because we're women.

How many lobbyists would I need to hire to get my invention (and if necessary, my competitors' knock-offs) covered under Medicaid so that senior citizens can use taxpayer dollars to buy my new invention? How much would hiring these lobbyists cost my company? Do I count them as my "marketing" budget or my "legal" budget?

Well, you'd have to hire someone that specialized in HHS relations and/or earmarks, but you would probably only need one firm. Depending on how difficult it was to convince people, you'd probably be looking at $10K/month, but -- not being into the regulatory side myself -- I have no idea how long it would take to get such a thing accomplished. Judging from how hard it is for a person to get qualified for Medicaid and the desire of lobbyists to maintain revenue sources, I'd suggest you plan on paying someone for a long damn time. Whether you count lobbyists as marketing or legal is between you and your accountant -- you just can't use money you receive from an earmark to pay them.

If free speech is money, what are the dividing lines, money-wise, in the House and the Senate for a 'shout' as opposed to a 'whisper'?

The dividing lines are basically the campaign contribution limits. You can give up to $2,300 to each candidate in each election (up to $47,200), up to $28,500 to a national party and up to $5,000 to a PAC (which can then donate up to $5,000 to a candidate but not at your explicit direction). Basically, those people that are "shouting" are maxed out to important incumbents, and those that are "whispering" are either giving to the designated unimportant incumbents or spreading smaller amounts of money around.

When a female lobbyist meets with a representative of the House of al-Saud, must she wear a burqa? And may she speak if not spoken to?

Why lobby at all when you can just bribe? No burqa or talking necessary, just cold hard cash.

Have you gotten to see the results of your work? Are you happy with them?

Of course I've gotten to see the results of my work. I've seen a damn signing ceremony (boring!), watched a vote both live and on TV (really, really boring) and looked at my paycheck. That last part is especially cool.

Oh, wait, do you mean have I seen what actually results from a bill passing or something? Nope, not really. Most of what I've lobbied for or against has very little impact on my day-to-day life (or almost

anyone else's), mostly because our government really only plays along the edges in most cases. It's not like we're getting universal health coverage or something, people!


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