5 Absurd Ways Lobbyists Are Corrupting Our Country (2022)

Lobbyists! You’ve probably heard of them before — they’re a go-to villain in modern politics. But what, exactly, are lobbyists, and what do they do? Are they really buying our government out from under us?

Well, yes. Yes they are. Here are 5 ways lobbyists are corrupting our government.

1. Lobbyists raise gobs of money for elected officials
5 Absurd Ways Lobbyists Are Corrupting Our Country (1)

The average senator has to pull in more than $14,000 dollars every single day, just to stay in office. One of the easiest ways to raise that kind of cash is to turn to lobbyists, who make big donations and organize swanky fundraisers for elected officials in order to buy influence for their clients.

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“You can’t take a congressman to lunch for $25 and buy him a steak. But you can take him to a fundraising lunch and not only buy him that steak, but give him $25,000 extra and call it a fundraiser.” – Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you’re a big bank. You want to buy influence with a senator on the banking committee so he’ll vote your way on an upcoming bill. The easiest way would be to just give $100,000 directly to the senator’s reelection campaign. But alas, that would be illegal — federal law prohibits companies from making direct donations to candidates. So instead, you hire a lobbying firm.

Here’s where things get corrupt. That lobbying firm can legally organize a swanky fundraiser that brings in $100,000 for the senator’s reelection campaign. At the fundraiser, your lobbyist just happens to have a friendly chat about your feelings on banking policy with the senator’s staff.

At the end of the day, the senator is still up $100,000, he still knows exactly where the money came from, and he knows which way to vote if he wants the money to keep flowing. But this time, nobody’s broken any laws!

One recent study found that “on average, for every dollar spent on influencing politics, the nation’s most politically active corporations received $760 from the government.” That’s a 76,000% return on investment. And it works on both sides of the aisle —top lobbying firms raise big money for Republicans and Democrats at the same time.

(Video) 5 Crazy Facts About Lobbyists - Follow the Money #11

2. Lobbyists write laws themselves
5 Absurd Ways Lobbyists Are Corrupting Our Country (2)

In many cases, lobbyists write our laws — literally.

For an example, look at the 2014 omnibus budget deal. Congress used the deal to secretly put taxpayers back on the hook for bank bailouts. That’s right –in 2014, our representatives repealed a law that prevented the American people from bailing out big banks that engage in risky derivatives trading. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

The New York Times reports that 70 of the 85 lines in the language that killed the derivatives bill came from a piece of model legislation drafted by Citigroup lobbyists. Yes, that Citigroup – the bank that played a major role in the 2008 crisis and also received billions of federal stimulus dollars.

The same report also revealed that “two crucial paragraphs, prepared by Citigroup in conjunction with other Wall Street banks, were copied nearly word for word.” You can even view the original documents and see how Citigroup’s lobbyists redrafted the House bill, striking out ideas they didn’t like and replacing them with ones they did. Citigroup quite literally wrote its own rules.

The members of Congress who originally backed the Citigroup-authored bill received massive amounts of money from Wall Street — likely channeled through, you guessed it, swanky fundraisers.

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To be clear, this isn’t just a problem with big banks. The exact same thing happens all the time on nearly every issue. Lobbyists for the chemical industry may have authored entire portions of a bill that shuts down state-based efforts to crack down on toxic chemicals.Lobbyists for one oil company “largely wrote” a bill about drilling for fossil fuels in an environmentally-sensitive area where it had property. Sometimes lobbyists even brag about how few changes the politicians make to their work!

3. Lobbyists effectively bribe members of Congress with lucrative job offers… to become lobbyists5 Absurd Ways Lobbyists Are Corrupting Our Country (3)

Lobbyists routinely offer members of Congress and their staffers lucrative jobs at their firms or their clients’ companies. These negotiations often take place while our representatives are still in office and, ostensibly, working for us, the American people. With multi-million-dollar future salaries on the line, most members of Congress are more than willing to protect the best interests of the lobbyists who will one day be their employers.

“I would say to [the Member], ‘When you’re done working on the Hill, we’d very much like you to consider coming to work for us.’ The moment I said that, we owned them. And what does that mean? Every request from our office, every request of our clients, everything that we want, they’re gonna do.” – Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff

The phenomenon of members of Congress heading off to work for lobbying firms and their clients is know as “the revolving door.” And it’s become shockingly common: in the 1970s, less than 5% of retiring legislators went on to become lobbyists. Now, half of retiring senators and a third of retiring house members do.

4. Politicians who walk through the revolving door are in for a massive raise5 Absurd Ways Lobbyists Are Corrupting Our Country (4)

It’s hard to overemphasize how tempting a revolving door gig can be. Congressmen who go on to become lobbyists get, on average, a 1,452% raise. Small wonder they’re willing to throw a few votes the lobbyists’ way with that kind of money on the line.

(Video) Jack Abramoff: The lobbyist's playbook

5. And that’s just the lobbyists we know about5 Absurd Ways Lobbyists Are Corrupting Our Country (5)

Thanks to loopholes in how federal law defines lobbyists, many elected officials go on to take what are effectively revolving door lobbying jobs without ever having to officially register as lobbyists. These “shadow lobbyists,” like former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Rep. Newt Gingrich (R-GA), are lobbyists in everything but name, and they’re certainly paid just as well as the real thing. Researchers estimate that there’s actually twice as much lobbying as what’s publicly disclosed —making the business of influencing politicians a $7 billion industry.

So, why don’t we just ban lobbying all together? Well, constitutionally, we can’t — and we shouldn’t have to.

Lobbying isn’t inherently evil. After all, a lobbyist is just a professional person hired to represent their client’s interests to an elected official. All kinds of groups, from major businesses to unions to nonprofits, pay for lobbyists.

The act of lobbying itself — that is, simply advocating a position to an elected official — is not the problem, and it’s actually protected by the First Amendment. Individuals and groups have every right to express their opinions to Congress about how proposed legislation might affect them and to try to convince lawmakers to take their side. The problem is that lobbyists routinely use money, favors, gifts, or lucrative job offers to do the convincing for them.

You can lobby, and you can donate to a politician. But you shouldn’t be allowed to do both.

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Luckily, that’s something we can fix with a single law. The unseemly and terrible behavior we’ve covered in this piece may be legal now, but it doesn’t have to be. Reforms to ban lobbyists from coordinating fundraising, close the revolving door, and end “shadow lobbying” have already been proposed at the federal level, and they’re currently picking up momentum in cities and states around the country. As the anti-corruption movement grows, we get closer and closer to ending lobbyist corruption for good.

FAQs

What are the 10 causes of corruption? ›

Causes of public sector corruption
  • Country size. ...
  • Country age. ...
  • Resource curse. ...
  • Political instability. ...
  • Wages. ...
  • Lack of rule of law. ...
  • Failure of governance. ...
  • Size of government.

What are the 4 types of corruption? ›

The most common types or categories of corruption are supply versus demand corruption, grand versus petty corruption, conventional versus unconventional corruption and public versus private corruption.

What are the forms of corruption? ›

Forms of corruption vary, but can include bribery, lobbying, extortion, cronyism, nepotism, parochialism, patronage, influence peddling, graft, and embezzlement.

What are the causes and consequences of corruption? ›

Among the most common causes of corruption are the political and economic environment, professional ethics and morality and, of course, habits, customs, tradition and demography. Its effects on the economy (and also on the wider society) are well researched, yet still not completely.

What are the five examples of corruption? ›

Methods
  • Bribery.
  • Embezzlement, theft and fraud.
  • Graft.
  • Extortion and blackmail.
  • Influence peddling.
  • Networking.
  • Abuse of discretion.
  • Favoritism, nepotism and clientelism.

What is the main reason of corruption? ›

Corruption usually occurs because some individuals are willing to use illicit means to maximise personal or corporate gain. However, in order for these individuals to become involved in corrupt activity, circumstances must exist which do not prevent or discourage them from doing so.

What is an example of public corruption? ›

Among the most serious types of public corruption are bribery and kickbacks, extortion, blackmail, bid-rigging, influence-peddling, illegal lobbying, collusion, graft, conflict of interest, gratuities, product diversion, and cyber extortion. Public corruption violates public trust for personal gain.

Is corruption a crime? ›

Economic globalization has made corruption a borderless crime. The competitive world of international business can leave companies exposed to bribes and fraudulent financial practices. Corrupt transactions can cross multiple jurisdictions, making the ensuing police investigation both time-consuming and complex.

How does corruption affect a country? ›

In a nutshell, corruption increases inequality, decreases popular accountability and political responsiveness, and thus produces rising frustration and hardship among citizens, who are then more likely to accept (or even demand) hard-handed and illiberal tactics.

What are corruption activities? ›

Corruption can informally be described as the act of unfairly or illegally influencing a decision-making process through the giving or receiving of a benefit (gratification) for the person making the decision or a third party connected to the decision maker.

How can we control corruption? ›

Report corruption
  1. expose corrupt activities and risks that may otherwise remain hidden.
  2. keep the public sector honest, transparent and accountable.
  3. helps stop dishonest practices.
  4. ensure that public sector employees act in the public interest.

How can we prevent corruption? ›

Preventing public sector corruption
  1. Codes of conduct. ...
  2. Systems of rewards and incentives. ...
  3. Accessibility. ...
  4. Human resources management. ...
  5. Citizen and stakeholder participation. ...
  6. Open government and e-government. ...
  7. Managing conflicts of interest. ...
  8. Compliance-friendly environment.

What are the four effects of corruption? ›

Community impacts of corruption
  • wasted taxpayer funds.
  • loss of goods and services.
  • lower community confidence in public authorities.
  • disadvantage to honest business that miss out on government contracts.

How does corruption affect the economy? ›

Corruption diverts talent and resources, including human resources, towards “lucrative” rent-seeking activities, such as defence, rather than productive activities. business, ultimately raising production costs and reducing the profitability of investments.

Why do we need to stop corruption? ›

The impacts of corruption disproportionately affect the most vulnerable people in society. Widespread corruption deters investment, weakens economic growth and undermines the rule of law.

What is corruption essay in English? ›

Essay on Corruption – Corruption refers to a form of criminal activity or dishonesty. It refers to an evil act by an individual or a group. Most noteworthy, this act compromises the rights and privileges of others. Furthermore, Corruption primarily includes activities like bribery or embezzlement.

How does corruption affect public service? ›

Furthermore, even episodic corruption cases can eventually lead to an unethical organizational culture, which can escalate to systemic corruption. Systemic corruption in the public sector erodes public trust in government institutions, damages policy integrity, and distorts public sector outcomes.

How does political corruption affect society? ›

Corruption does not only occur in government buildings. You can see corruption in your daily life. It impacts the implementation of the rule of law and democratic values. It takes funding away from important infrastructure investments such as roads, schools and hospitals, and deters international investors.

How is corruption a social crime explain? ›

It is taken as a social problem due to the following reasons: Corruption slows down the development activities. It discourages the spirit of skilled and honest citizen. Corruption affects the fair distribution of resources and opportunities negatively.

How do you start a corruption speech? ›

I welcome you all present here. I am here to present a speech on Corruption. By corruption, we mean that any dishonest or immoral behavior or activities that result in the gain of some powerful organization or people. Thus, corruption often results in loss to the weaker section of the society or organization.

How corruption is a threat to development? ›

"Corruption is a global threat. It is a serious roadblock to economic development," said the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov. "Corruption aggravates inequality and injustice, and undermines stability, especially in the world's most vulnerable regions."

How does corruption affect the justice system? ›

Corruption decreases public trust in justice and weakens the capacity of judicial systems to guarantee the protection of human rights, and it affects the tasks and duties of the judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and other legal professionals.

What are the examples of corrupt activities common in the private or public sector? ›

Forms and manifestations of private sector corruption
  • Commercial bribery and kickbacks. ...
  • Extortion and solicitation. ...
  • Gifts and hospitality. ...
  • Fees and commissions. ...
  • Collusion. ...
  • Trading of information. ...
  • Trading in influence. ...
  • Embezzlement.

What is private corruption? ›

Common examples of private sector corruption within business organizations include, among others, commercial bribery, kickbacks, corporate fraud, collusion and insider trading (Green 2013; Kim 2014; Zinnbauer et al. 2009).

What is petty corruption? ›

Everyday abuse of entrusted power by public officials in their interactions with ordinary citizens, who often are trying to access basic goods or services in places like hospitals, schools, police departments and other agencies.

What is passive corruption? ›

Passive corruption means requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting benefits intending that, in consequence, an act or decision should be influenced a decision or a duty should be performed improperly.

What is the full meaning of corruption? ›

We define corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Corruption erodes trust, weakens democracy, hampers economic development and further exacerbates inequality, poverty, social division and the environmental crisis.

How does corruption affect human rights? ›

Corruption in the judicial sector damages the right to a fair trial, as corruption erodes the independence, impartiality, and integrity of the judiciary. The lack of independence of judges, prosecutors and lawyers directly harms the right to a fair trial.

How does corruption contribute to poverty? ›

Since corruption is, by its nature, difficult to measure, high-quality data from developing countries are scarce. Corruption could be a hurdle to economic development and thereby intensify poverty through a number of channels. It weakens national institutions and increases economic inefficiencies (Gupta et al., 2002.

What is the conclusion of corruption? ›

By addressing corruption through a human rights framework “the social impact of corruption is made visible; this generates awareness in society about the consequences of this scourge and creates new alliances in the fight against corruption” (UNHRC, 2015, p.

What are the causes of corruption in education? ›

The study showed the main causes of academic corruption to be students' poor study habits (68.8%) and poor entry qualifications (66%). It further showed that the effects of this corruption include delayed absorption of graduates into the labour market (91.5%) and poor quality of university graduates (87%).

What are the main causes of corruption in India? ›

The causes of corruption in India include excessive regulations, complicated tax and licensing systems, numerous government departments with opaque bureaucracy and discretionary powers, monopoly of government controlled institutions on certain goods and services delivery, and the lack of transparent laws and processes.

How do we prevent corruption? ›

Preventing public sector corruption
  1. Codes of conduct. ...
  2. Systems of rewards and incentives. ...
  3. Accessibility. ...
  4. Human resources management. ...
  5. Citizen and stakeholder participation. ...
  6. Open government and e-government. ...
  7. Managing conflicts of interest. ...
  8. Compliance-friendly environment.

How does corruption affect a country? ›

In a nutshell, corruption increases inequality, decreases popular accountability and political responsiveness, and thus produces rising frustration and hardship among citizens, who are then more likely to accept (or even demand) hard-handed and illiberal tactics.

What are three effects of corruption? ›

Organisational impacts of corruption
  • financial loss.
  • damage to employee morale.
  • damage to organisation's reputation.
  • organisational focus and resources diverted away from delivering core business and services to the community.
  • increased scrutiny, oversight and regulation.

Why do we need to stop corruption? ›

The impacts of corruption disproportionately affect the most vulnerable people in society. Widespread corruption deters investment, weakens economic growth and undermines the rule of law.

What are some examples of corruption in education? ›

For example, nepotism and favouritism often lead to the hiring of unqualified and unmotivated teachers, who are then difficult to dismiss, resulting in poor-quality education.

What is corruption essay in English? ›

Essay on Corruption – Corruption refers to a form of criminal activity or dishonesty. It refers to an evil act by an individual or a group. Most noteworthy, this act compromises the rights and privileges of others. Furthermore, Corruption primarily includes activities like bribery or embezzlement.

What is corruption speech? ›

Corruption is a problem that has hampered the growth of our country is not one but many ways. It is also one of the most common English speech topics for students. The idea behind giving this topic in a speech on corruption is to enlighten students on our country's problems and how we can resolve them.

What is the conclusion of corruption? ›

By addressing corruption through a human rights framework “the social impact of corruption is made visible; this generates awareness in society about the consequences of this scourge and creates new alliances in the fight against corruption” (UNHRC, 2015, p.

How corruption is a threat to development? ›

"Corruption is a global threat. It is a serious roadblock to economic development," said the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov. "Corruption aggravates inequality and injustice, and undermines stability, especially in the world's most vulnerable regions."

What is the role of accountability in fighting corruption? ›

Accountability can reduce corruption and other abuses, assure compliance with standards and procedures, and improve performance and organizational learning [33].

How do you deal with corruption in the workplace? ›

10 Ways to Reduce Bribery & Corruption Risks
  1. Update anti-bribery & anti-corruption policies. ...
  2. Get the tone right from the top. ...
  3. Embed ABAC principles in corporate culture. ...
  4. Ensure gifts & hospitality meet key criteria. ...
  5. Conduct due diligence on all third parties. ...
  6. Watch out for bribery & corruption red flags.
9 Mar 2022

How does corruption affect human rights? ›

Corruption in the judicial sector damages the right to a fair trial, as corruption erodes the independence, impartiality, and integrity of the judiciary. The lack of independence of judges, prosecutors and lawyers directly harms the right to a fair trial.

What are the impacts of corruption on social and economic development? ›

Corruption creates negative national image and loss of much needed revenue. It devalues the quality of human life, robs schools, agricultural sectors, hospital and welfare services of funds. It discourages foreign investments leading to decrease in Foreign Direct Investment.

How does corruption contribute to poverty? ›

Since corruption is, by its nature, difficult to measure, high-quality data from developing countries are scarce. Corruption could be a hurdle to economic development and thereby intensify poverty through a number of channels. It weakens national institutions and increases economic inefficiencies (Gupta et al., 2002.

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