The Shadow Lobbying Complex - On paper, the influence-peddling business is drying up. But lobbying money is flooding Washington, DC like never before. What’s going on?- The Nation
Click on the cover illustration above and you will get a good guide to the lobbying business in Washington that applies almost equally to Canberra.
To encourage you to read the whole article, here are a few excerpts
A November report from McKinsey & Company estimated that the “business value at stake from government and regulatory intervention” is about 30 percent of earnings for companies in most sectors. Simply put, government policies can mean the difference of billions of dollars for major companies, and spending on politics offers a superb payoff.
… Rather than using the L-word to describe what they do, many lobbyists prefer the more banal rubric of “government relations” or “government affairs.” Reflecting this trend, the American League of Lobbyists—a professional association for the industry—changed its name in November to the Association of Government Relations Professionals. And while lobbyists must report their payments from clients, those ducking the system quietly bring in the biggest paydays.
… head of public affairs—another euphemism for influence peddling popular among unregistered lobbyists
…Designed to ensure that regular citizens petitioning their government would not be forced to register as lobbyists, the LDA has a three-pronged test to determine who must register—a test that inadvertently allows Washington’s biggest influence peddlers to ignore the disclosure law. According to this test, a lobbyist is an individual (1) who earns at least $2,500 from lobbying over a three-month period; (2) whose services include more than one lobbying contact; and (3) who spends at least 20 percent of his time during a three-month period making “lobbying contacts.” If a lobbyist can argue that just one of these descriptions doesn’t apply to him, he is not required to register.
Lobbyists, moreover, are considered lobbyists only if they advocate on behalf of a certain position on legislation; if they’re simply gathering intelligence, they’re not considered lobbyists under the law.
… it had merely sought to collect information rather than advocate a certain position—a key difference that would excuse the company from registering as a lobbying firm.
… One of the biggest problems with lobbying registration is that the LDA was never intended to cover so-called “outside lobbying.” Like previous iterations of the law, the current system does nothing to regulate the fake grassroots groups that enraged Senator Black, or the surrogate think tanks and public relations gimmicks used to corral popular support for special-interest legislative campaigns. Many lobbying businesses offer a full range of capabilities that fall well outside the LDA’s definition of lobbying.