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  • Rebecca Katers

    Key statement: “We’re out to make public policy better for the organizations we work for and the people we represent.”

    So, they’re out to change government laws, regulations, programs and expenditures to benefit private interests. If they capture new loopholes, deregulation, tax-breaks, high-cost services, loans, or free grants for their wealthy clients … and those changes hurt the rest of us in some way … so be it.

    They don’t feel responsible for their part in our economic meltdown, increased deficits, education cuts, health care cuts, service cuts, reduced pollution controls, or the rapidly expanding divide between the ultra-rich and the middling-to-poor in this country.

    Even if, as Richards says, “The vast majority of lobbyists in Wisconsin are people of high integrity,” those people still skew and interfere with the relationship between elected officials and citizens in those officials’ home districts.

    Lobbyists are not elected representatives. Most don’t serve the general public in ANY district. Even the small minority of under-paid lobbyists who argue on behalf of non-profit public interest organizations are usually speaking for a subset of the population, not everyone.

    Full-time, paid lobbyists only represent people, religions, or businesses who can afford to pay them. The rest of us … the vast majority of us … can’t afford lobbyists.

    Why would “people of great integrity” excuse, profit from, and help perpetuate such a grossly imbalanced and unfair political process? Especially given the overwhelming evidence of the collective harm caused overall by lobbying pressure on our government?

    People of integrity, especially those with lobbying experience, should be using their skills and knowledge to advocate for a truly representative democracy. They should demand a system where EVERYONE within each district has equal open access to the elected representatives for their district. People of integrity should demand a system where special interests from outside of districts are less favored or even discouraged from making unnecessary, high-pressure contacts with representatives of those districts.

    Most important: People of integrity should make it their TOP PRIORITY to advocate for removal of private money from our elections. (Every lobbyist knows from firsthand observation how corrosive and damaging that money is.)

    Instead, many lobbyists are just one part of larger issue campaigns that use freighter-loads of election money to turbo-charge their lobbying pressure on elected officials.

    In other words, they’re part of organized bribery or extortion threats which directly impact our elected officials and government functions.

    But most lobbyists just do their own thing, good or bad, and take no personal responsibility for fixing the overall sickness of counter-productive influence-peddling. They’re willing participants in this system. (Unfortunately, too many other Americans are equally useless and self-involved.)

    I would never refer to such inaction as “high integrity” behavior.

    Most lobbyists are probably nice average people and never deliberately “evil,” but if they’re willing participants in a high-paid horde lobbying our government officials AGAINST the public’s interests, and they do nothing to correct this system, they are NOT admirable or outstanding role-models for our children. They aren’t our friends and they deserve to be ashamed of their occupation.

    It’s anti-social behavior, even if it’s high-paid, common-place and institutionalized.