We began by stating that lobbying is difficult to define well. It is. But that doesn’t lessen its importance. In his compelling history of lobbying prepared for the U.S. Senate, Senator Robert Byrd said, “Congress has always had, and always will have, lobbyists and lobbying. We could not adequately consider our workload without them. . . . They spend many hours and considerable shoe leather trying to convince 535 members of Congress of the wisdom or folly of certain legislation. They face vigorous competition. They still bear the brunt of press criticism and take the blame for the sins of a small minority of their numbers. But they have a job to do, and most of them do it very well indeed. It is hard to imagine Congress without them.”
Equally important, though, is optimizing the relationship between your organization and your advocate. By following these basic, commonsense strategies, you can learn to work closely with your advocate to achieve your organization’s legislative goals.
Diana C. Mendes, AICP, is a senior vice president and national director of transit planning for DMJM Harris I AECOM; Nancy Butler is vice president for federal and governmental affairs for DMJM Harris I AECOM.