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What makes a strong lobbyist


By Lee Hamilton

Mon, Nov 17th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

Because of its power to influence public affairs, the press has long been known as “the Fourth Estate.” But I think the media may have been displaced. These days, it’s lobbyists who seem to carry the most clout in Washington.

Here’s a case in point. When Congress closed at the beginning of August for its end-of-summer recess, it faced wide-scale derision for having accomplished next to nothing during the year. In fact, the Pew Center ranked the session as the least productive in two decades.

But it wasn’t entirely unproductive. Just before they left town, members of Congress did manage to get three things done: they passed a Veterans Administration reform package; they increased aid to Israel; and they kept highway construction projects around the country from losing funding.

Why did these three measures find success when so many others did not? There’s a two-word answer: Powerful lobbyists. Veterans, supporters of Israel, and the combined weight of highway construction interests and state and local governments are among the most influential forces in Washington.

Last year, some 12,000 active lobbyists spent $3.24 billion on trying to influence the federal government, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. I don’t know of any other country where lobbyists have those kinds of numbers, spend that kind of money, or get the kinds of results they’re able to achieve here — in Congress, in the executive branch and, increasingly, in statehouses around the country.

But even among all those lobbyists, some stand out for their effectiveness. The National Rifle Association (NRA), the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), veterans’ groups, the AARP: all are very good at obtaining laws and policies in their interests and blocking laws and policies they consider harmful.

I don’t mean by this that they’re all-powerful. They don’t win every battle. But they do win most of them.

How do they do this? To start, lawmakers have to get elected. Good lobbyists don’t just provide large amounts of money for campaigns, they provide early money and expert help. They donate, they introduce you to other donors, and they help you establish connections that can help during your campaign and later on. Early money in politics is better than late money. Candidates remember that sort of thing. They also remember that if you oppose these organiza .....
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Time for Governing

Mon, Nov 10th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

We have again endured another election cycle. An excessive, appalling amount of money, $4 billion nationwide, has been spent ad nauseam on advertising laced with half-truths and sometimes ugly, negative declarations about an opponent. Many ads resor ..... 
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One Moment, Please... On Veterans Day, and every day

Mon, Nov 10th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

On this recent election day, I thought about how lucky we are to have an opportunity to vote for who we think will respresent our best interest at various levels of government. Not every country has what we may sometimes take for granted -- freedo ..... 
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Invest in your community - “Give to the Max”

Mon, Nov 10th, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

“Give to the Max” Day is November 13. Local community foundations are seeking donations and your support on November 13, “Give to the Max” (GTTM) Day in Minnesota. The first statewide GTTM Day, an online giving event, occurred in 2009. Last ..... 
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Olmsted Medical Center hosting women’s health pavilion open house

Mon, Nov 3rd, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Nearly 16 months after Olmsted Medical Center (OMC) broke ground on a 80,000-square-foot expansion to its hospital campus, the regional medical center will host a public open house at its new Women’s Health Pavilion on Thurs ..... 
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Highway 250 culvert replacement north of Lanesboro will detour traffic

Mon, Nov 3rd, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

Traffic on Highway 250 in Fillmore County will be detoured beginning Monday, Oct. 27 while Minnesota Department of Transportation replaces a culvert. The detour could be in place through Friday, Oct. 31, but will be lifted when work is completed. ..... 
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GasBuddy update

Mon, Nov 3rd, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

OCTOBER 27, 2014 – The U.S. average price of gasoline ($3.03/gal) continues its slide to levels last seen in December 2010... and today, more than one-half of the nation’s gas stations offer regular gasoline at prices below $3 per gallon. GasB ..... 
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Another perspective

By Col. Stan Gudmundson

Mon, Nov 3rd, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

Here are few thoughts on this and that. Imagine that you are a police officer out on patrol. You come across two young men who are fooling around in the street causing traffic delays. You have a couple of choices. Ignore them or actually do your ..... 
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Bringing the region together

Mon, Nov 3rd, 2014
Posted in All Commentary

At the beginning of this month, Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation (SMIF) hosted its Annual Luncheon at the Owatonna Country Club. It was another outstanding event with 220 of our partners from across the region. Together we celebrated our pas ..... 
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