The Four Corners of Lobbying
For all of its perceived grubbiness lobbying is carried out by professionals in cooperation with clients to identify legislation and how it may conflict or comport with their interests.
1. Lobbying must begin with a though understanding of the issue and what arguments can be assembled to persuade regulators and legislators to alter their views of the matter. Experts from the field know far more than public officials and are a critical asset to government which can easily make mistakes that affect the legislators’ districts. Expertise may come from attorneys, engineers, scientists, financial experts, doctors or any personnel with specialized knowledge of the subject and who are available to accompany a lobbyist at critical times in the process of persuasion, especially at junctures when a client or industry is under stress from negative publicity or adverse impacts of current laws and regulation.
2. As critical as presentation of an issue may be, an assessment of the political impacts of the client position must be made since sensitivity by legislators to how they are perceived is the principle reason for them to support or oppose a position. Since legislators look for consensus to avoid political fallout, awareness of pressures that may be placed on the public official shows a concern for the legislator and forces the client to provide cogent arguments that protect the interests of both parties. Understanding the “political” nature of the process may also include support of a candidate when appropriate. This need not be financial support but acknowledgement of a legislator in press releases or internal communication with employees or support of common community interests such as scholarships or the arts and sciences.
3. Policy development must be reducible to a concise, coherent memorandum in support or opposition. It should be short enough and non technical for easy digestion by those staffers who may not have participated in the original discussions and who may possess limited expertise but are non-the-less intelligent. Some lobbyists attach extensive documentation to memos, or digital links, making it easy for legal and technical staff to verify the accuracy of citations.
Never lie. This includes a ban on the use of ambiguity and qualifiers. Simple, supportable conclusions contribute to continuing credibility of the lobbyist and client. At critical times in the legislative process clients must stand ready to defend their positions rigorously.