Lobbyists aren’t all about money

Parker Willis

Despite what popular opinion is, not all lobbyists are corrupt.

During my day with Kyna Iman, I discovered that lobbyists are a very important part of the political process. They help politicians get the information they need to know about why they should or shouldn’t pass a bill.

Before that day, I wondered how the members of the House and Senate knew everything about every bill when so many bills were being processed at one time. I understand that they have secretaries and legislative assistants that help them do all of the research but three or four people per office can’t know what 40,000 constituents want.

So that’s where lobbyists come in. They have constituents just like politicians. But instead of being divided by geographical locations, they are brought together by a common goal or interest.

If everyone who had a special interest showed up to the Capitol building and wanted to talk to their representatives about an idea they have, the representatives would have no time to do their jobs. So they form groups and pay lobbyists to do the talking for them.

And more often than not, as I can tell from Missouri’s Capitol building, these lobbyists represent something they are interested in.

I have met lobbyists for the conservation department who are real outdoorsmen. I met a lobbyist who only lobbies for children and battered women and spoke passionately and whole-heartedly about what she does.

Now, I did meet a pharmaceutical lobbyist who did seem like a regular sleezebag. And, judging by the way he discarded me as someone unimportant and a waste of his time, I know he is just in it for the money.

So there are those out there that do fit the bill of being a fast talker, overbearing personality, with only one thing on their minds. But that’s not Iman. And that’s not what most lobbyists are about.

The movies and the papers make it look like lobbyists spend all day giving politicians money to buy their votes. But I saw no money exchanged the entire day I was there.

Most of the legislators treated her like she is just another person working at the Capitol building, but more of them treated her like a friend.