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Can Lobbyists and Clients Achieve More Together?

If all my past, present, and future clients took your training it would make me a more effective lobbyist and make my job 100x’s simpler. David R. Custin, President David R. Custin & Associates, Inc. Miami, Florida Our six lobbying practice manuals, 15 topical videos, and three skills development workshops derive from universalities required by the US …

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“Ethics is its own reward.”* Paul Hallman

State Government Affairs professionals, as we all do in our professional and personal lives, make many momentary acquaintances of mutual convenience. Among many acquaintances, we also make a few real friends. Paul Hallman, principal (today retired), MultiState Associates, started professionally as an acquaintance of convenience – a consultant – but over the years proved himself …

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US Supreme Court 2021-22 Term Invites More Lobbying

The 2021-22 US Supreme Court term will result in more citizen participation in setting public policy and thereby more work for lobbyists – federal, state, local, legislative and executive. Four rulings illustrate the court’s constitutional redirection vis-à-vis promoting lobbying[2]: Constitutional lineage[3],[4] shall prevail over judicial vogue.[5] Longevity of judicial vogue hallows not constitutionally bad Supreme …

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Managing Contract Lobbying: Arlington, Virginia May 24, 2022

“How many of your employers evaluate you for job performance?,” I ask every Lobby School class. All hands raise. This question is followed by, “How many of your organizations evaluate your contract lobbyist for job performance?” Perhaps, 10 hands raised in the last 22 years. Generally, having 0-5 years of experience, most Lobby School students …

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Senior Lobbyists Training New Lobbyists

Bringing Up a New Generation of Better Lobbyists. Thesis: conveying knowledge to better society realizes a basic public responsibility. Illustration: state constitutional obligations for free public education at taxpayer expense. Likewise, senior lobbyists passing our knowledge to the next generation of advocates will better novices’ professional lives, the process and quality of state lawmaking, and …

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Three Skills Development State Lobbying Workshops, May 24-26 Arlington, VA

Lobby School workshops are bootcamp-style, applied-skills State Government Affairs professional training. Each session (3@4-8 hrs) is supported by 1 or more Insiders Talk operations manual(s) (5@100-488 pgs) and class workbooks (3@50-100 pgs). Written materials provide participants with greater and deeper practice details than can be presented in the classroom. Novices “jump-start” their careers.  Veterans fill …

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Lobbyist Reconcile Conflicting Interdependent Worlds

Part of a lobbyist’s job is to mitigate political damage from impetuous, undisciplined principals acting independently of Government Affairs (GA). Below are examples of: 1) injuries to a lobbying campaign, 2) the principal’s behavior that caused the injury, and 3) lobbyist mitigation of the injury. In all cases, meaningful GA-C-suite communication could have avoided these …

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How Good a Client Are You? A Job Performance Evaluation Instrument for In-house Lobbyists

About one-third of my students’ employers hire contract lobbyists. Students occasionally comment, “We pay our [expletive deleted] contract lobbyists too much [expletive deleted] money for the [expletive deleted] service we get.” When I was a novice in-house lobbyist I felt the same. But the root of our problem is simple: most of us were just …

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Get to Know the Executive Agency Legislative Liaisons

Agencies compete in the legislature with other special interests, state and private, for money and authority. In most, but not all, cases agencies work though their own in-house lobbyists called legislative liaisons. The legislative liaison’s role can be an observer, analyst, or advocate as determined by his or her personality and expectations of management. Observers by …

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Lobbyists advocate. That’s what we do. Seldom do professional advocates pick and choose their advocacy topics. The C-suite assigns issues to in-house lobbyists. Clients, especially long-term ones, assign issues to their contract lobbyists. In this blog I consider how lobbyists can maintain their sense of personal decency while promoting issues: 1) in which they do …

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“Lobbying is a dance of seduction…”

  … our DC lobbyist advised regarding our industry association’s effort to get Congress to “occupy the field” in the regulation of our products. We wanted one federal program to preempt an expanding “patchwork” of inconsistent, conflicting, and difficult to meet state laws. Federal preemption was indispensable to our problem-solving. As chair, at the time …

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Political Responses to Technical Facts (updated)

(Updated from December 6, 2021) Technical facts and data, indispensable to executive agencies, are often discounted in legislative policymaking. “Political Responses to Technical Facts” (v2) guides technical experts to become more aware of the political process. The legislative process is procedurally logical but often fact-based irrational. A lawmaker knowingly discounting my technical advice said, “In …

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Why and How National SGA Efforts Succeed

National state government affairs (SGA) lobbying initiatives can succeed at least 70 percent of the time when designed, implemented, and managed around the concept that lobbying is legislative sales. I say this even amidst the swelling and profound politico-cultural differences among red and blue states. There remains too much national commonality and consensus as to …

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A Statute Is the Starting Gun, Not the Checkered Flag in Phase II of Capital Lobbying

“Most of the people in the state of Illinois, and I think this is true across the country, are much more affected in their daily lives by operation of the administrative and executive part of government than they are by 90 percent of the bills [of] the General Assembly.” Former Illinois Governor Dan Walker [1] …

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Insiders Talk - How to Get and Keep Your First Lobbying Job

Advice for New Lobbyists: Are You Resolved to Protect Your Integrity?

If you don’t know what you are going to do before you run into a compromising situation, then you’ll probably make a bad decision. A long-term lobbying career is built upon reputation. Having worked for governments, corporations, and universities, I have found that legislatively enforced ethical expectations for honesty, accuracy, and credibility somewhat shield a …

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Dogs and Rattlesnakes – Lawmakers and Lobbyists

Despite legislatures adopting sexual harassment policies and mandatory annual training, lobbyists should not presume sexual harassment will cease. Experience to date suggests sexual harassment training does little to change lawmaker behavior. In part this may be because the drivers for the behavior remain, a few of which include: legislatures remain overwhelmingly male; acquired situational narcissism; …

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Dogs and Rattlesnakes

A dog trainer contacted me about “activists” trying to put him out of work by banning the use of rattlesnakes in his business. He teaches dogs in the western part of the US how to avoid getting killed by rattlesnakes. To teach the dogs to avoid rattlesnakes he needs rattlesnakes. However, using rattlesnakes is considered …

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Animal Lovers

I spoke at an animal welfare conference. Several speakers gave interesting presentations. A researcher said that among millenials twice as many women as men research animal welfare on the web; among baby-boomers – four times as many women as men. A defense attorney said USDA wins in 100 percent of enforcement actions because they charge …

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How Much Do Donors Get for Their $?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D NY) and Conor Lamb (D PA) both rejected PAC political contributions. Publix supermarkets announced it will make no more political contributions. Toyota will stop giving election objectors political donations. None of the corporations and associations for which I worked regularly made political campaign contributions. “And only about a third of the thousands of …

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Sen. Sasse Describes the Why and Results Thereof of Elected Lawmakers

Sen. Sasse describes the why and results thereof of elected lawmakers defaulting to the courts and executive agencies. This surrender occurs in Washington, D.C. and state capitols. Insiders Talk: Winning with Lobbyists Professional edition and abbreviated in the Readers edition discusses this trend in great detail and how we lobbyists can work effectively within the current constitutionally distorted system. …

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¿Cabildero o Lobista – Hay Diferencia?

A Peruvian lobbyist and I spoke about the similarities of lobbying in our respective countries. There are differences. Peru is unicameral while 49/50 US state legislatures are bicameral, Nebraska being unicameral. Political corruption there is rampant, as it is in almost all 3rd world countries. Legislative procedures vary. And international NGOs are attempting to force values upon …

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Scrupulous Honesty in Lobbying and the Seminar Business

Trust is the foundation of effective lobbying. Lawmakers and staff listen to those whom they trust and dismiss the untrustworthy. The elements of trust are scrupulous honesty, accuracy, and credibility. Scrupulous honesty means the whole truth, unshaded, without nuance. Arkansas state Senator Uvaldi Lindsey once told me he doesn’t trust lobbyists who are “technically accurate …

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Scrupulous Honesty in Lobbying… – Part 2

Over supper recently, a private sector union lobbyist and I discussed union workers in the US illegally. When I asked him if by representing laborers regardless of immigration status his union wasn’t undermining American workers, his corporate response was that employers, not unions, are responsible for ensuring immigration status. This smacks of Sen. Uvalde Lindsey’s …

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For a Successful Client – Lobbyist Relationship – Create A Lobbying Plan

Last month a major-league lobbyist shared with me the top 5 complaints he hears from clients when they hire him after firing their contractors. In the next several blogs I’ll offer suggestions to clients on how to avoid these complaints from arising. While I have a client-centric bias, I hope both clients and contractors will find these suggestions …

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For a Successful Client – Lobbyist Relationship – Communicate

A big reason clients give as an explanation for firing their lobbyists is the lack of communication. Lack of communication can occur at either the lobbyist’s or the client’s initiative. I say initiative because non-communication is a conscious choice. Sometimes a lobbyist doesn’t want to “waste” time communicating with clients, especially bad ones. Or some clients may be …

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For a Successful Client – Lobbyist Relationship – Include Clients in Lobbying

Have you ever heard this joke? A potential client asks a lobbyist, “How much would a retainer cost us?” Lobbyist: 12 thousand dollars. “How much for you to lobby for us?” Lobbyist: 30 thousand dollars. “How much if we lobby together?” Lobbyist: 60 thousand dollars. Some contractors don’t want clients to do anything more than write checks. There are …

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For a Successful Client – Lobbyist Relationship – Have a Clear Fee Structure

The fourth reason clients give for firing their contractors is they don’t understand the fees they are paying. Lobby School students at times say to me, “We pay our #$%! lobbyist too much #$%! money for what we are getting!” Yet, I suspect they, like most consumers of lobbying services, really don’t know what they …

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For a Successful Client – Lobbyist Relationship – Report Progress and Success

Another reason clients fire their contractors is: lobbyists not reporting progress and success. This complaint is a subcategory of Reason Number 2 for Firing – Failure to Communicate. It flows from 1) fundamental disrespect for the client,  2) inadequate engagement documents, or 3) unenforced engagement documents. Fundamental disrespect for the client: If lobbyists conclude you are in over your head, …

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Advice for New Lobbyists: Who Do You Want to Be? Can You Escape Burnout?

This next series of posts is intended to help new lobbyists find their places in their organizations and in the lobbying world.  For each reader, your answers set the foundation for your professional future, success, job satisfaction, and longevity. Let’s consider some questions that should be considered before you take a job. Those of you already employed must …

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Advice: How Government Affairs Sophisticated Is Your Employer?

In our last essays, we examined two foundational questions new lobbyists must face: Who do you want to be in your organization; and, are you strong enough to avoid burnout? In this post, we consider the office context into which you will be working, specifically your employer’s level of government affairs (GA) sophistication and its …

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Advice for New Lobbyists: How to Work in a Logical, but Irrational Environment

The previous two posts dealt with questions fundamental to you having a successful lobbying career: Post 1) Who do you want to be in your organization? and, Can you escape burnout? Post 2) How government affairs (GA) sophisticated is your employer? and, How committed is your employer to your GA program and to you? In …

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