ABOUT THIS BLOG

I shall post videos, graphs, news stories, and other material. We shall use some of this material in class, and you may review the rest at your convenience. You will all receive invitations to post to the blog. I encourage you to use the blog in these ways:

· To post questions or comments;

· To follow up on class discussions;

· To post relevant news items or videos.

There are only two major limitations: no coarse language, and no derogatory comments about people at the Claremont Colleges.

The syllabus is at http://www1.cmc.edu/pages/faculty/JPitney/gov106-fall15.html

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Monday, March 31, 2008

Lobby News/Executive Branch

Parasite Economy Watch:

The new law changes the filing schedule from semiannual to quarterly and adds a raft of additional reporting requirements. Haley saw an opportunity to fill a growing need for lobbying disclosure assistance. Her new firm, Capitol Filings, opened its doors last week. Capitol Filings is dedicated solely to helping lobbyists fulfill the increasingly complex tasks of monitoring and reporting on their business, as mandated by the federal government.

Loophole Watch:

The new ethics and lobbying law (PL 110-81) allows lawmakers to keep their job searches secret from the public unless they see a clear conflict of interest on the horizon. The new law requires House members to file notice with the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct within three business days of beginning negotiations for a new job. In an advisory last Sept. 28, the ethics panel notified House members that the term “job negotiation” had not been defined in the new law, but “merely sending a private entity a copy of a resume is not considered negotiating for future employment.”




Executive Branch Lobbying:



Note the significance of federal advisory committees such as The National Petroleum Council.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lobbying: Making and Breaking the Rules

Moyers on Abramoff:



Bundlers for presidential candidates.



The revolving door.



An academic institute that got a lot of contributions.

Google Lobbying the FCC

This article is an example of direct corporate lobbying of an executive branch on an issue that requires in-depth technological background. Google sent a letter directly to the Federal Communications Commission lobbying to use TV "white space" (unused airwaves) to provide wireless internet access. Although the FCC may have more time to analyze the specific technological aspects and impacts of the lobbying request than a typical Congress member might have, it is still an example of how a corporation can use its superior techological knowledge to affect public policy. Google's attempt to lobby the FCC will turn out to be a perfect example of the importance of information in the lobbying process, especially with a technological issue such as TV airwaves and wireless internet.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Creating favorable research

I found this article while browsing the headlines. It reminded me of our discussion about representatives of interest groups giving testimony on the Hill and of Thank You For Smoking.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/26/health/research/26lung.html?ex=1364270400&en=b6832342b0a82f29&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

Cigarette Company Paid for Lung Cancer Study
Published: March 26, 2008
The revelation that a researcher’s study was underwritten by a tobacco company has caused an appearance of bias.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lobbying Techniques


Some issue-specific sources for monitoring:
Duke Cunningham's Bribe Menu:

Here is a list of ideas for more ethical means of persuasion.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The Corner of Sesame and K Streets


Dan earlier posted a photo of Elmo's testimony. Elmo and Rosita also met with Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) Kermit recently got into the act, too:

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I was surfing online and found this interesting How-To guide to testifying :

If you are asked to testify before a congressional committee or other policymaking body or public forum, a sound knowledge of your subject, some advance preparation, and the following guidelines can maximize the positive impact of your statement. Keep in mind that you will be asked to prepare both a written statement for the record and a short (usually five-minute) oral statement.

Below are some tips to help you prepare and deliver your testimony:


Preparing Your Written Statement

  • Briefly Introduce Yourself
    Tell who you are and give information about the program you are representing (i.e., how many people you represent, how many people you serve, successes you have had). Acknowledge your appreciation to the panel for considering the issue and inviting you as a witness. This should take no more than one or two paragraphs.

  • State Your Goal and Outline Your Major Points
    In a few sentences, tell the committee or panel what you hope to accomplish in your statement. Again, be brief.

  • Talk About the Problem
    Begin, for example, by discussing the problems that CTE is solving or can solve for the nation. This informs the decision-maker but also helps cast you in the role of a problem solver rather than one simply representing a vested self-interest. Discuss the national significance of the issue and try to relate it to your state and community. Even better, try to relate the problem to the states or districts of the legislators before whom you are testifying.

  • Talk About Current Efforts to Resolve the Problem
    Describe solutions that are being tried or considered. Has anything worked in various states or communities on an experimental or demonstration basis? Explain why the efforts are insufficient or how they can be improved.

  • List Your Specific, Concise Recommendations
    Focus on what Congress can do to help solve the problem at hand.

Delivering Your Oral Statement

When delivering your oral statement, pay attention to the following “do” and “don’t” lists.

Do:

  • Remember that your elected representatives are people too. Although you maybe nervous, remember that these representatives are looking to you as the experts. Relax, remain calm, and speak like the expert you are.

  • Personalize your testimony. While statistics are important, one way to assist elected officials (and get their attention) is to let them know how the issue affects their constituents.

  • Make eye contact. Look at the legislators as you talk so that the material is delivered with your eyes. To facilitate eye contact: 1) separate your pages, removing clips and staples; 2) use large type and double-space your text, triple-spacing between paragraphs; 3) leave a two-inch margin at the bottom of the page so your head won’t have to tilt down too far; and 4) don’t carry a sentence over to the next page.

  • Remember that there is a time limit for Congressional testimony. You do not want to find yourself in a position where your time has expired and you have not gotten to the point of your testimony. Before your scheduled time, ask who?, what the time limits are, and practice accordingly.

  • Your hope should be that they will be interested enough in you and your subject to ask questions after you finish. Anticipate questions your testimony may prompt and have good answers in mind.

  • Focus on the specific issue of the hearing. Make sure your comments are relevant.

  • Follow up. Write a thank you note to each legislator present for the opportunity to testify, and provide additional information supporting your cause. Also, ask for support on your issue. Thank you letters published in the local papers are a great incentive to a legislator to invite you or your group to testify again.

  • Do use your testimony in other arenas. If you are invited to testify before a group other than Congress, take it! Many of these guidelines can be tailored to fit testimony given to the state legislature, school board, county commissioner, chamber of commerce, or the state board of education.

Don’t:

  • Don’t spend more time describing your own qualifications or your programs than you do the issue at hand. You were invited to testify because you are qualified. Use the time you are given to focus on the issue.

  • Don’t assume that the panel or committee members are experts. Legislators vote daily on many issues – everything from water projects to space programs. While you do not want to talk down to them, (they probably know more than you think) you should not assume that they know all that you do about the issue at hand.

  • Don’t try to tell them everything you know. Simplify, simplify, simplify!

  • Don’t be shy. Remember, you’re important! You are the one who votes the legislators into office. But whether it’s to laud or lament, compliment or counsel, be tactful and polite.

Elmo Testifying

I found an Press Release with a great picture on elmo testifying before congress:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

PhRMA

Politico article talking about PhRMA and its lobbying efforts. The article discusses some of the ideas we discussed in class about the importance of being able to work with both Republicans and Democrats. PhRMA was too close with Republicans in the past, so when Democrats took control, PhRMA did not have any influence. Billy Tauzin has "been aggressively moving it toward the center of the political spectrum," and now PhRMA is giving almost equal amounts of money to Republicans and Democrats. Tauzin and Pelosi now "have a cordial working relationship" and PhRMA seems to be gaining influence among Democrats. An interesting change of tactics by PhRMA.

Lobbying and the Legislative Process

A profound introduction to the legislative process:




Click here for a bit more detail.

A case study (albeit an not-quite-objective "cops and robbers" version)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Southern Baptists and Climate Change

From AP:
In a major shift, a group of Southern Baptist leaders said their denomination has been "too timid" on environmental issues and has a biblical duty to stop global warming. The declaration, signed by the president of the Southern Baptist Convention among others and released Monday, shows a growing urgency about climate change even within groups that once dismissed claims of an overheating planet as a liberal ruse. The conservative denomination has 16.3 million members and is the largest Protestant group in the U.S.

Click here for the initiative site. (H/t to Alexei Laushkin)

Monday, March 10, 2008

The NYT's Character Assassination of John McCain Continues Unabated

Well, that title might be a touch sensationalist, but you get the idea. I admit that the article is more relevant to last week's material, but it's too much fun not to post. Although John McCain said yesterday on 60 Minutes that he'd be releasing his medical records "in the next month or so," Lawrence K. Altman at the New York Times felt it was necessary to write a story pointing out that while the data we have supports that McCain is healthy and at low risk of a recurrence of melanoma, it's still more fun to speculate:
Along with his signature bright white hair, the most striking aspects of Senator John McCain’s physical appearance are his puffy left cheek and the scar that runs down the back of his neck. The marks are cosmetic reminders of the melanoma surgery he underwent in August 2000 [...]

In 1999, during Mr. McCain’s first race for president, he gave the public an extraordinary look at his medical history — 1,500 pages of medical and psychiatric records that were amassed as part of a United States Navy project to gauge the health of former prisoners of war. This reporter, who is a physician, interviewed the senator’s doctors in 1999 with his permission.

But this time around, Mr. McCain has yet to make his full medical records or his physicians available to reporters. At least three times since March 2007, campaign officials have told The New York Times that they would provide the detailed information about his current state of health, but they have not done so. The campaign now says it expects to release the information in April. [bold and italics mine]

And now some data from the article:

The melanoma removed in 2000 was Stage IIa on a standard classification that makes Stage IV the most serious. For Stage IIa melanoma, the survival rate 10 years after diagnosis is about 65 percent. But the outlook is much better for patients like Mr. McCain, who have already survived more than seven years.

For patients with a melanoma like Mr. McCain’s who remained free of the disease for the first five years after diagnosis, the probability of recurrence during the next five years was 14 percent and death 9 percent, a study published in 1992 found.

A 14% chance of recurrence and a 9% chance of death? Not bad. But why stop there?

Since the 2008 campaign began, doctors not connected with Mr. McCain’s case have expressed intense interest in the extent of the face and neck surgery that he underwent on Aug. 19, 2000, at the Mayo Clinic Scottsdale in Arizona.

Some of these doctors have noted in e-mail messages and in comments to reporters that the surgery appeared to be so extensive that they were surprised his melanoma was not more serious — perhaps Stage III, which would give him a bleaker prognosis. These doctors said they would be surprised to learn that such an operation would be performed without evidence that the melanoma had spread. [bold and italics mine]

Stage III!? Oh no! Wait--how much bleaker is that? Can we have some sort of number? While the article backs away from this implication, stating that such procedures were the industry standard 8 years ago, page 2 is worse:

Doctors advise melanoma patients to have regular checkups to detect new skin cancers and the spread of old ones because melanomas can be quirky. Mr. McCain’s staff has not said what tests his doctors have used to monitor his case.

Most recurrences of melanoma occur in the first few years after detection. Survival figures for melanomas are often measured in 10-year periods rather than the 5-year periods for many other cancers.

“With melanoma, a patient is never completely clear,” said Dr. Shapiro, the N.Y.U. expert.

If melanomas do recur, standard treatment options are limited for many to surgery and a difficult form of chemotherapy. The chances of long-term survival diminish.

Now, on the campaign trail, Mr. McCain appears to take care to shield himself from the sun, slathering on powerful sunscreen before outdoor events, finding spots of shade from which to speak and sometimes wearing baseball caps while outside. [bold and italics mine]

The staff hasn't said what tests McCain has used? The patient is "never completely clear"!? He's "slathering on powerful sunscreen"??!! I suppose it's not what Mr. Altman is saying, but rather what he is not saying that is important. One interpretation could read: "Senator McCain hasn't released his medical records, his staff isn't talking, and he's using gobs of super sunscreen. I sure hope he doesn't drop dead the next time the U.S. has an existential crisis."

And for more of what's quite literally left unsaid, here's the article's big finish:
Mr. McCain is occasionally asked on the campaign trail about his age. But he is almost never asked about his health.
Hat Tip: Snarky Bastards

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Lobbying: An Introduction

Here we segue from the outside game to the inside game:




OpenSecrets.org has a neat lobbying database.

Some top contract lobbyists:

Lobbyists and association executives have groups of their own.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Democratic Party Sponsorship

As we discussed in class campaign finance restrictions do not apply to party activities, such as the convention. Another example of a "party activity" is holding a primary or caucus. With the possibility of new primaries or caucuses for Florida and Michigan and no one willing to pay for them Ben Smith reports on an interesting scenario here:
One Florida official on Wednesday, noting that campaign finance regulations are flexible as to financing party activities such as primaries, offered, only half in jest, a novel suggestion: Corporate sponsorship. "We could have the Tropicana Primary or the Miami Dolphins Primary," the official said.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Businesses plot strategy to protect wealth funds

From The Politico:

Sovereign wealth funds are teaming up with the private equity industry, business trade associations and major financial institutions to strategize a defense against the growing political scrutiny of the $3 trillion funds.

Last week, about 30 lawyers and lobbyists — organized, according to one attendee, by a representative from private equity firm The Carlyle Group — conferred at JPMorgan’s New York offices to discuss their role in the growing political issue.

Congress, the Treasury Department, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union are questioning the government-backed investment funds that have made several high-profile investments in Western financial institutions in recent months.

Two subcommittees of the House Financial Services Committee plan to hold a joint hearing Wednesday to discuss the role of foreign governments’ investments in the United States [...]

Over the past weeks, lawmakers have launched a series of inquiries into the funds. The IMF estimates that more than 20 of the funds, financed mostly by petrodollars and excess foreign exchange reserves, manage as much as $2.9 trillion — more money than either hedge funds or the private equity industry. [...]

Executives from two of the largest sovereign-wealth funds — the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the Government of Singapore Investment Corp. — met two weeks ago with Clay Lowery, the assistant treasury secretary for international affairs. The administration is supporting IMF efforts to create a voluntary code of conduct.

For policymakers, regulating the funds is a delicate balancing act. On one hand, fund investments have propped up financial institutions, bringing in much-needed capital and creating jobs during a period of economic anxiety. Over the past 11 months, the funds infused about $69 billion into financial institutions sapped by the subprime mortgage crisis, according to some estimates.

Hmm. So what does the public think about a way to pump money in a capital-deprived economy without having to cut rates and further devalue the dollar?
A survey conducted last week by Public Strategies Inc. found that 55 percent of registered voters thought sovereign-wealth fund investments would hurt national security, and 49 percent believed that investments would negatively affect the U.S. economy.
Not that there's no good reason to be suspicious:
“If you think of an investment made by a state fund, there could be multiple motives. Perhaps we want the airline to fly to our country. Perhaps we want the bank to do extensive business in the country. Suppose we want suppliers in our country to be sourced. Perhaps we want some disablement of a competitor for our country’s national champion," he [Senator Christopher Dodd] says.
And these sovereign wealth funds play it by the book:
Many of the funds have hired their own lobbyists and public relations specialists, who informally discuss the issue. They also work through existing diplomatic channels, including embassies and congressional trips abroad.

Interest Groups & Earned Media

Traditional news releases

Archive of Video News Releases

Current VNRs

NFIB:



On the other side of the spectrum, the Drum Major Institute:



The Ruckus Society:

Big business ventures into the blogosphere

The oh-so-unhip world of business trade associations took a small shot at edginess Monday when nearly a dozen groups launched the blog BizCentral.org, aimed at Washington’s influencers.

In an Internet landscape littered with blogs, the modest venture might seem unremarkable except for the big names on the marquee: Business Roundtable, American Trucking Associations, American Petroleum Institute, CTIA — The Wireless Association, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Nuclear Energy Institute, Organization for International Investment, Personal Care Products Council, Salt Institute and the U.S. Telecom Association.

But persuading the conservative, button-down business groups to enter the shoot’em-up world of blogging is a major advancement, said Pat Cleary, who pushed the idea from the start.

“It goes to all of business’ greatest fears and paranoia. Could somebody say bad stuff about us? You bet. What control do we have once it’s out there? None. Can people use this against us? Yup,” said Cleary, senior vice president of digital public affairs at PR shop Fleishman-Hillard. “It goes against every rule we follow. It’s in the DNA. It is a little bit of a leap to get into this space.”

Cleary preaches the importance of communicating through the Web with the zeal of a convert because he believes businesses ignore the Internet at great risk. Environmentalists, labor unions and other groups that have traditionally banged heads with Big Business have effectively used the blogosphere for years, Cleary said.

But those groups have more of a built-in readership for their blogs, he noted. Who would read a pro-business blog?

“Short answer: people who care about your issues,” such as congressional aides, lawmakers, reporters, policymakers and opinion leaders, Cleary said.

And that’s what drew the chain drugstores’ trade group to the project, said the organization’s spokeswoman, Chrissy Kopple.

“It is kind of a one-stop shop. You could probably find a wide range of issues that are hot on Capitol Hill that each of those organizations have a stake in,” she said.

The blog gives Kopple the ability to respond quickly to policy debates without relying on the media to get her message out. The blog also links associations with similar agendas and helps them quickly identify others who may be potential allies.

Another BizCentral.org member, the Business Roundtable, also blogs regularly on the environmental site Treehugger.com, said Roundtable spokesman Joe Crea. The organization’s posts there touch on sustainability and green business.

“They like having the business perspective on a kind of crunchy site,” Crea said.

Writing on BizCentral.org will allow the group to expand its blogging megaphone from environmental issues to other policy areas like health care, education and trade, Crea said.

Blogging is often an exercise in no-holds-barred communication. But this being a business blog, there is one commandment — “We don’t shoot at one another” — and one rule: “You’ve got to post once a week,” Cleary said.

Cleary got the idea for BizCentral three years ago while he was still an executive at the National Association of Manufacturers. When he moved to Fleishman, the firm gave him the resources to make it happen.

The blog is free to participants and helps Fleishman build its brand as “leaders in the digital space,” Cleary said.

At NAM, Cleary built Shopfloor.org to fight taxes, promote innovation and shake manufacturing’s reputation as an industry filled with dark and dangerous jobs. Two years after its launch in 2004, the blog had a million readers.

Now, Cleary is trying to build on his success with what he calls a first-of-its-kind business association blog. He’s working to use the blogosphere to build influence and drive policy, something business has not yet done in a meaningful way, he said.

“In an association town, every ... association that reads this will be like, ‘What? Let’s check this out,’” Cleary said.

Time will tell.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Image, Public Service, Issue Ads



A GE image ad:



Public Service Ads:

The classic issue ad -- "Harry and Louise"

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hillary Under Fire for Keeping Donations from Firm Under Investigation for Widespread Sexual Harassment

An NBC investigative news blog reports that Hillary Clinton's campaign has come under fire for accepting donations from International Profit Associates, or IPA, an Illinois management consulting firm. The federal government's Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has accused the firm of widespread sexual harassment, and "degrading anti-female language" toward their female employees. The case, brought against IPA by 103 female employees, is ongoing and IPA vehemently denies the allegations. Hillary's camp argues says that she was unaware of the allegations at the time she accepted the donations, but records show that she has yet to return any of the $170,000 IPA donation, or the personal donations from the disbarred Managing Director, John Burgess, and other senior IPA officials. The case against IPA and the criminal history of Burgess was first brought to her attention in a 2006 New York Times article. Sen. Obama has returned the $2,000 he received from IPA's corporate funds, but kept the $2,000 from the Managing Director's wife. Other Democrats, such as Sen. R. Kennedy have also returned IPA donations. Clinton's campaign says that they have yet to return IPA's funds because the investigation is ongoing and they are awaiting an EEOC ruling before deciding what action to take. Hillary could come under fire from women's groups for keeping the donations, and even some of the former female employees of IPA have denounced her decision. This situation highlights previously explored issues such as corporate donations and candidate responsibility for donors' background records.