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 http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Barbershop: UofL Basketball Ban, Football Concussions And The NFL Women's Summit

ESPN contributor Kevin Blackistone, Bloomberg View's Kavitha Davidson and The Washington Post's Wesley Lowery talk about the UofL basketball team, public opinion of the NFL, and women in sports.
NPR

After Introducing Changes, Keurig Sales Continue To Fall

Despite America's high coffee consumption, Keurig reported disappointing sales this week. Even during its popular holiday selling period, the numbers haven't perked up in recent years.
NPR

With A Little Help From Larry David, Bernie Sanders Does SNL

Bernie Sanders impersonator Larry David hosted the episode with a cameo from the senator himself. Sanders slipped in a main campaign message, while David jabbed at the candidate's cantankerous side.
NPR

How Limited Internet Access Can Subtract From Kids' Education

Smartphones are often credited with helping bridge the "digital divide" between people who do and don't have Internet access at home. But is mobile Internet enough for a family with a kid in school?

Leave a Comment

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