The Washington Lobbyists

By Lester W. Milbrath | Go to book overview

injurious to his own group. After a display of great activity and prowess by the lobbyist, the friendly legislator kills the bill and the lobbyist reaps the rewards for his effectiveness.11 "Sandbagging" is nearly impossible at the federal level; no legislator or lobbyist has enough control of the process to attempt such a manipulation. There is no way of knowing how prevalent it is at the state level, but observers indicate that it happens only occasionally.

There seems to be little movement of methods and personnel between state and national lobbying. Very few of the Washington lobbyists have worked as state lobbyists, and very few move from Washington to a state capital. Probably the main reason for this is that effective lobbying requires the establishment of a reputation, and that reputation is good in only one setting. A lobbyist who may be very valuable in a state capital because of his experience, reputation, and contacts would have considerably less value in the national capital--at least at first. The policy-making machinery at each level of government is run by an inner leadership clique, and it is simply a fact that it takes a long time to win confidential access to that leadership. As a consequence, each setting has its own set of actors, and there is little movement from setting to setting.


SUMMARY

The points relevant to the cleanliness of lobbying can be summarized in this way: There are a few corrupt individuals in lobbying, and, therefore, a little dirt is present. The whole process, as a whole, however, is remarkably clean; the system provides few rewards for dirthy methods. It is virtually impossible to steal or buy a public policy decision of any consequence in Washington. The actors on the Washington scene effectively eject violators of the rules from the system. At the state level, the system seems less tight, and a somewhat greater incidence of venality and corruption seems to creep in. More adequate studies of state lobbying must be made to confirm the latter generalization.

____________________
11
DeVries ( 1960, pp. 108-9).

-304-

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