When I told people back home that I was going to intern for a lobbying firm, more than a few of them reacted as though I’d just announced that I’d landed a job as personal assistant to Satan.  I can’t say I blame them. Outside of the District, press about lobbying seems to cover only the sensational scandals and Jack Abramoffs of the industry. But the longer I live here and the more I learn, the more I realize that lobbying is everywhere and without it, nothing would ever get done. So I figured I’d see for myself just how evil it was on the other side.

And guess what: my job is free of scandals and smoky rooms, devoid of shady deals and cushy gifts to members of Congress.  Instead of the golfing trips and lavish meals that used to make their way into the news, we dispense information. The people I work with genuinely believe in what they advocate on behalf of their clients, and some of that work is even done pro bono. And best of all, it’s a very bipartisan place. It’s so refreshing to be reminded that there are people left in politics who really don’t care what party you belong to, and that there are still issues where we can align with what makes sense, instead of automatically falling on one side of a party line and never solving the problem.

I’ll be fair: it’s only been two weeks. I understand only a tiny corner of the immense world of lobbying, and I intend to learn as much as I can while I’m here. But so far, I’m heartened that Washington sometimes works this way, despite what we hear on the news.

Your link for the week: the Senate’s Lobbying Disclosure Act Database. You can look up your favorite evil corporation and find out just how much they’ve been spending on lobbying. A lot of them have their own in-house lobbyists, which is why the company name sometimes appears as both a client and a registrant. They’re legally required to disclose all of it.


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