Filed Under:

Why Lobbyists Dodge Calls From Congressmen

Play associated audio

This story is part of our series on money in politics.

We imagine the lobbyist stalking the halls of Congress trying to use cash to influence important people. But it doesn't always work that way. Often, the Congressman is stalking the lobbyist, asking for money.

Lawmakers of both parties need to raise millions of dollars per election cycle. So lobbyists get calls from lawmakers and their staffs all the time, inviting them to fundraisers, according to Jimmy Williams, a former lobbyist for the real estate industry.

"A lot of them would call and say 'Hey ... can you host an event for me?'" Williams says. "You spend most of your time dodging phone calls."

But when a Congressman calls and you need his vote, you agree to host a fundraiser. That means finding other people to come and give money.

"So I call up my buddies down on K Street," Williams says. "I'm gonna do this event for this guy, and he sits on the House Financial Services committee. You guys have any money for this person?"

With a lot of these events, there's space on the invitation to put your credit card number. Some lobbyists send their donation in ahead of time. Others bring the money to the event.

"We have a policy that all checks have to be hand delivered," says Scott Talbott, a lobbyist for the financial services industry. "So we have to go up and eyeball the candidate... Wouldn't you remember if someone handed you a check rather than sent it in the mail?"

Tomorrow on Morning Edition: What those checks are buying.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


Heroic Women In Strong Poses: Serena Williams, Amy Schumer In Pirelli Calendar

"Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman." — that's how comedian Amy Schumer sums up this year's Pirelli calendar.

High-Sodium Warnings Hit New York City Menus

The city is the first in the nation to require a sodium warning on menu items containing 2,300 milligrams of sodium or more. The rule applies to chain restaurants with 15 or more locations.

Congress Strikes Deal On 5-Year Transportation Bill

For the first time in a decade, congressional leaders have reached a bipartisan agreement on a long-term bill to fix, maintain and expand the nation's roads, bridges, rails and mass transit.
WAMU 88.5

Computer Guys And Gal

Another year is coming to a close and the Computer Guys And Gal are here to discuss this year's biggest technology news, including the growth of virtual reality and the "Internet of Things."

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.