Lobbyists have gotten a black eye recently with the scandal and corruption that’s surrounded one of the Washington’s most powerful lobbyists, Jack Abramoff , but they remain one of the most important parts of our democratic society and their salaries show it. In an 1998 study by the American League of Lobbyists, 65% of respondents (who held senior-level positions) made over six figures though it’s accepted that in order to earn the big bucks you either have to have been a power player (politician turned lobbyist) or have put in 5-10 years to make the necessary connections.
If you’re a little confused about what Lobbyist is and what he or she does, you’re not alone, I was a little hazy myself. According to Merriam-Webster Online, the purpose of a lobbyist is “to conduct activities aimed at influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body on legislation.” Now, this runs the gamut from helping educate the lawmaker about the issue (which is critical to our democratic process) to “influencing public officials.” Lobbyists and their firms are permitted to give campaign contributions. Often times lobbyists will take officials out to meals to present their client’s case. There is a lot of gray area in the world of lobbying. It’s that “influencing public officials” in the gray area that tripped up Abramoff.
If you want to become a lobbyist, Paul Miller of Miller, Wenhold (a lobbying firm), suggests that you find work somewhere in Congress so you can build up a contact list and understand how the legislative process works. Then, when you’re ready, you can join the 19,000 other federal lobbyists vying for the ear of congressmen and women.
via CNN Money .