Dear Big Daddy,
I’m a lobbyist and I’m inundated with invitations to lawmakers’ fund-raising
events. I probably attend one event for every 20 invitations I receive, if
that. Frankly, I’m getting tired of being solicited, but I’m concerned that
if I tell the candidates and lawmakers I’ll hurt my own lobbying prospects.
What would you do?
–Advocating in Sacramento
Now I know that making small talk with 80 Assembly members who all believe
they have what it takes to be the next Jesse Marvin or having to listen to
40 senators who just know they can part the Red Sea with a wave of their
hand can be taxing. Hell, let’s call it what it is: a downright
mind-numbing, tedious, annoying and boring waste of minutes, which rapidly
turns into hours, that may provide you with exactly zero return on your
investment of time, let alone any financial investment your clients might
However, Big Daddy is having a difficult time working up the energy or the
outrage necessary to break out the violin for your cause. Why? Well, let’s
face it, the work you’re doing isn’t exactly taxing or backbreaking.
You entered a profession where one of the chief responsibilities is sucking
up to elected and would-be members of the Legislature. Did you take this job
and get surprised that attending fund-raisers, eating soggy hors d’oeuvres
and fielding calls from people you couldn’t identify in a police lineup was
part of the job description? Saying you want to be a lobbyist but not
dealing with fund-raising calls is a little like the $1,000 hooker who loves
her job and loves the pay, but gets tired of having men always trying to get
her into bed.
The dance between members and lobbyists is as old as the Capitol itself.
Just as candidates have no business getting elected if they can’t eat your
food, drink your liquor and “enjoy” your women, then turn around and vote
against you, you shouldn’t be here if you can’t figure out a way to turn a
member down without letting him know he’s being rejected.
It’s a little known and poorly advertised (for obvious reasons) fact that
most members hate making fund-raising calls almost much as you hate getting
them. How can you use that fact to your benefit? Well, perhaps you can come
up with a little cash, maybe not the full $3,300 for a maximum contribution
to a wet-behind-the-ears Assembly candidate in search of a free Explorer
lease, but enough to make them believe you really went to the well for them
with one of your clients. Most candidates will take it, declare victory and
proudly tell their fund-raiser how they were able to squeeze $200 out of you
when you weren’t prepared to cough up a nickel. The fact that you’re
essentially up $3,100 is a fact you may want to keep to yourself.
If shading the truth and dancing the dance don’t appeal to you, then perhaps
it’s time to go write the great American novel or cure cancer, but if you
want to stay in the lobbying business, perhaps it’s time to brush up on your
glad-handing and saying-no-with-a-smile skills.