• Rebecca Katers

    I strongly disagree with the central assertion of this article, though I appreciate being given all the background information.

    To me, there is no worthwhile distinction to be made between Thompson directly lobbying in person, or using all his knowledge and experience to advise and develop lobbying strategies for an entire lobbying firm.

    If anything, his role was WORSE and much more intense than simple personal lobbying, because his influence was multiplied and magnified through all the lobbyists working under his direction.

    Thompson wasn’t just a casual, occasional “advisor,” as he pretends. He was a grossly over-paid PARTNER in the firm, putting him in a powerful leadership position. He was an integral part of that firm’s lobbying process and lobbying team, whether he personally contacted his chosen targets or not.

    For 7 years, Thompson grew rich leading teams of lobbyists while they pressured our government decision-makers to take actions serving wealthy private interests, often to the detriment of the public’s best interests.

    That makes Thompson “a high-paid Washington lobbyist” in every sense that matters to the public voter and taxpayer.

    From another perspective: If a husband hired, instructed, and encouraged someone else to shoot his wife, and police could prove it, we would call that husband a “murderer.” It doesn’t matter whether his hands were clean, he had never shot a gun in his life, and he had a rock-solid alibi the night of the murder. The husband caused the crime and the word “murderer” fits.

    For 7 years, Thompson has been a powerful, negative influence-peddler Washington. He was a traitor to the public interest. Now, he expects voters to believe he will instantly “flip sides” and be OUR champion in the U.S. Senate if we elect him.

    Why help Thompson muddy the Senate race with confusing split-micron semantics? Why help him hide the central truth of his actions from voters?

    Furthermore, does anyone really believe that Thompson NEVER personally contacted ANY of his extensive political or agency acquaintances as part of ANY of his firm’s lobbying strategies during that 7 year period? Who could be so consistently perfect? Does Thompson possess super-natural powers of self-control?

    Put yourself in his shoes. If Thompson had carefully planned and orchestrated a major lobbying campaign for an important client, and the lobbyists working under him were failing to get results … imagine how tempting it would be to make just a few little phone calls or visits himself. There were bound to be key lobbying targets (decision-makers) who only Thompson could reach or affect. He would know that no one could prove he’d contacted them.

    Also, since leaving public office, Thompson has been a big paid speaker at special events. I’d be willing to bet he incorporated some of his firm’s lobbying language into at least some of his speeches.

    And who could possibly believe that Thompson said nothing to promote his firm’s client’s interests at Republican events or in private discussions with his Republican colleagues? Many of those colleagues were elected officials, such as Congress members, with real power to serve Thompson’s clients.

    And given Thompson’s position on “about 2 dozen” Boards for private corporations and a few non-profits, wouldn’t he also have access to an amazing number of additional power-brokers?

    Imagine Thompson’s social life in Washington D.C., rubbing shoulders with the rich and powerful at private parties and public events. Wouldn’t he be tempted to briefly buttonhole his friends at these events? Wouldn’t he just naturally use lobbyist campaign catch phrases during small gatherings when issue discussions and debates developed? Wouldn’t he be tempted to drop a few suggestions now and then to acquaintances with key influence? Can you imagine Thompson NOT doing these things?

    Lobbying is all about connections like this.

    Of course Thompson would never admit to making inappropriate contacts for his firm, because he wasn’t registered as a lobbyist. He would have to admit that he broke the law.

    I don’t understand how ANYONE in a leadership role at a lobbying firm could be legally excused from registering as a lobbyist. If clients pay them to develop or lead lobbying campaigns, they ARE lobbyists. It shouldn’t matter if they use surrogates to deliver their message. It’s still THEIR message and presented with THEIR name, reputation and credentials backing it up.