We will often talk about the Professional Political Class. It essentially is all people who make a direct living off of the business of Politics. This breaks out into several groups:
- Political Officials – We elect these folks and we often wonder how they go ‘bad’
- Campaign Consultants – They make their living on division and conflict, every 2 years.
- Government Employees
- Legislative Staff – Normally appalling young & inexperienced; even veterans often have little private sector experience
- Agency Appointees & Staff – often way more experienced, mainly advocating for their own budgets.
- Lobbyists – include advocacy group here. Paid to shape & sway opinion, often against the general interests of the average taxpaying producer.
This piece will be bout this last group; a group most people don’t think about until the legislatives session in in full swinng. But they are working year-round to expand and solidify their influence.
How many lobbyists are there. Well, as of 2018, there are 1,630 lobbying entities listed here ; 9 lobbying entities for every single legislator. While many are single individuals, some are firms of various sizes; I have heard AT&T has 107 lobbyists in their group. Here is a list of the 7,287 lobbyist clients registered for 2018; over 40 per legislator. These figures make it clear; the legislators face a professional horde to inundate them with paid opinions; and over half of them are paid- directly or indirectly- with taxpayer money from cities, counties, school districts and other political entities.
Then add the amount of money that is spent in the lobbying efforts; the expensive meals, entertainment, and parties. Over $3.7 million on food & beverage alone las year; over $20,000 per legislator for a 6 month session. (Some of that goes to legislative staff to, like a weekly BBQ lunch in some hallways).
The liberal & ‘big government’ advocacy groups also have organized mobs of very polished ‘witnesses’ in Austin (or can come to Austin as part of their government job) that swarm committee hearings. It is one area the conservative voice is completely outmatched. We that do testify are often outnumbered 50 to 100 to 1.
The average taxpaying ‘producer’ citizen have little chance for their voices to be heard during session against the volume & wealth brought to the lobbying efforts. But we must try. Electronic communication is weakest (email, etc.), phone calls are a little better. Personal contact is best, as is showing up for hearings. We need to CONSTANTLY remind the legislators during session who actually elected them.
One last point: For anyone wanting to get involved and become a Texas citizen activist in the state legislature, the first absolutely necessary technical skill you can develop is to learn most of the functionality found in the Texas Legislature Online (TLO) You can watch hearings and sessions online, read & track bill, get notifications, etc. We’re hoping to have an online training link to it hear at a later date.
As for me (Mike Openshaw) , I’ll be there full-time for this next session , trying to stand against the Lobbyist Legions. And I will NOT be mistaken for one of them. Indeed, this website now has a secondary access URL: http://www.NotADamnLobbyist.org