The Lonely Centrist

A place for reasoned debate about the issues of the day.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Yes, you too can be a lobbyist! In fact, you may already be one!

Sorry, more process issues.

The latest brilliancy from the professional "reform" lobby in Washington is "lobbying reform." But by that, they exclude themselves.*

Senator McCain's new bill now regulates as "lobbying," “any attempt to influence the general public, or segments thereof, to engage in lobbying contacts whether or not those contacts were made on behalf of a client.” As the Skeptic points out, this means things like ads that urge the public to, "call your congressman."

Can one get around the law? Here's my sample "circumvention" ad:

[Ad begins with average citizens complaining that Congress is not responsive to their needs. Cut to narrator]:

"Sometimes it seems like no one in Washington ever listens. But now insider Washington politicians want to make it harder for you even to talk to them. Hard to believe, but Senate Bill 2128 would limit efforts to "influence the general public" to call their congressman. Yet Senator McCain, and your congressman, Rep. Zookenfizz, support silencing you with this law. Are you tired of politicians trying to silence you?"

Now, let's stop right there. Have I tried to "influence the general public to engage in lobbying contacts"? What if I deny it? Isn't this a pure intent crime. Maybe my intention is to get them to vote people out of office (of course, that's limited, too, but more than 60 days out from an election I can probably run the above ad without any problems). Or will the definition of trying to "influence the general public to engage in lobbying contacts" merely be the flip side of McCain-Feingold - by definition, if it is not regulated by McCain-Feingold, then it must be regulated by Senator McCain's lobbying bill?

You know, it's crazy, but I still find lots of otherwise knowledgeable people who refuse to believe that Senator McCain really wants to limit your political activity.

*They exclude themselves by limiting the regulation of grassroots lobbying to that done by lobbyists - i.e. people paid to do so. They exclude themselves from that definition, although it is hard to see why, since people pay them money precisely to change public opinion on these issues.

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