Your Opinion: Legislators and lobbyists
Thursday, February 13, 2014
By reading the St. Louis newspaper, attending legislative committee meetings, public hearings and events one becomes aware of the fiscal relationship between our state legislators and lobbyists. From observations I have come to the conclusion this is not a benign relationship and is often viewed differently by the participants.
While gifts and money often are used to gain access, it becomes obvious that a truly successful lobbyist must be knowledgeable and, more importantly also must maintain a friendly demeanor and appear to the legislator to be a trusty confidant. This practice can be viewed as similar to the relationship between a “john” and a prostitute. In some cases a legislator is not only willing to take the money and gifts, but actually seeks them out. The legislator, for their part is more than willing to thank, sometimes before the start of a public hearing, the attentive lobbyist. The lobbyist soon finds the price for access and influence and the legislation introduced and passed reflects the value gained by the process.
The relationship between many of our legislators and lobbyists reminds me of the famous line from Robert Burns’s poem, To A Louse: “Oh, that God would give us the very smallest of gifts, to be able to see ourselves as others see us.” In this case it is our legislators who see themselves as noble men and women in all their finery and importance while the lobbyist sees the louse crawling on them.