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 by Ron Cruger
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Lobbists and moral integrity
        According to OpenSecrets.org here is what the top ten industries spent on lobbying in Washington D.C. last year.

Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $199,323,702
Insurance $122, 065,251
Oil & Gas $129,669,855
Electric Utilities $108,163,536
Business Associations $ 92,696, 817
Computers/Internet $ 88,847,937
Misc. Manufacturing/Distributing $ 84,363,782
TV/Movies/Music $ 77,861,927
Hospitals/Nursing Homes $ 77,465,842
Education $ 73,913,389

        Let’s face it; lobbyists have one goal – to further the aims of the companies that pay their salaries. I can’t think of another realistic reason for their existence.
        Let’s face some more things. There are over 40,000 registered lobbyists at the state and federal level. There are 15,000 federal lobbyists.
        With 535 Congressmen and women this means that there are at least 28 lobbyists in Washington D.C. for every Senator and Representative.
         Every member of Congress has an assemblage of lobbyists that are there to persuade, cajole and “educate” the elected ones. Every day, every week, month after month the 15,000 lobbyists in Washington D.C. are prevailing on our Congressmen and women, expertly convincing them to vote in a manner that will benefit the lobbyist’s bosses.
        The question arises about how does a well-meaning, newly elected Congressman or woman react when they bring their fresh outlook and honorable thoughts to Washington and then become immediately deluged by scores of lobbyists. Each pulling, pushing and tugging on him or her to vote the way that would benefit the lobbyists’ clients.
        It must be a jarring experience for an idealistic, newly elected Representative or Senator to bring their kind- hearted and well-meaning thoughts to Washington and find that the game is played differently with the “big boys.”
        Is it possible for an honest, well-meaning, idealistic new Senator or Representative to care, above all, for his or her constituents, ignoring the pleas and suggestions of a highly skilled lobbyist who can make clear the advantages of voting “the company way.”
        Can a new Senator ignore the bantering of a portion of the 15,000 registered lobbyists clamoring for his vote in the hallowed halls of Congress?
        Can a new Representative refuse the suggestions of a portion of the 15,000 or more lobbyists, each asking for the favorable vote that would safeguard or enrich the coffers of the business footing the bill?
        Can a politician fail to see the benefits of taking the “advice” of the lobbyist? Can a politician not see the benefits of the financial support, the endorsements, the swing of votes that can be gained by voting “the right way?”
        How soon after election does the newly elected Senator realize the sheer power of the lobbyists surrounding him or her? 
        Can a newly elected Representative serve his or her constituents with complete honesty and moral integrity without being eventually seduced by the lure of political endorsements, financial support and the assurance of winning another term?
        I’m not sure it’s possible.
        That is why it is up to us, the interested electorate, to keep a sharp eye peeled on what goes on in the hallowed halls of Congress, in addition to our state legislatures as well as our city and county governments.
        As my wise old Grandmother used to say, “Money wins. Money always wins.”