Lobbyists are people who are hired to try to get certain legislation or certain projects enacted, on behalf of some special interest group or person they represent. One method they use to do this is to "donate " money to key members of the legislature. This gives the special interests "a foot in the door." It gives the lobbyist a leg up on opposing competition who haven't "donated." Also, campaign contributions from lobbyists come from individuals who make their living seeking access to, and influence over, candidates running for office. And many candidates for office don't want to seem "ungrateful" to their supporters, and a thank you can be expressed in many ways.
According to a Washington Bureau reporter, Paul C. Barton, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California has recently received contributions from 218 lobbyists, many with a stake in her Senate Appropriations Committee work and to financing her re-election campaign. But Sen. Feinstein's office denies that she can be bought off, that "what lobbyists want is not what matters most" to her. Her PR staff claims that the senator evaluates legislation based on what is best for California and the country. The idea that contributions don't influence or change a lawmaker's position, but rather they are given as a sign that they agree with a particular position, this is hard to swallow. This might be like asserting that presidential candidates don't campaign for votes by making unkept promises, but rather they get votes because the electorate agrees with what the candidates promise. Would you believe that neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney would accept money from lobbyists who want something in return, but instead would accept "donations" simply because the donors say they like their candidate's stances on certain issues?
Lobbyist are involved with most of the incumbent senators seeking re-election this fall. Sen. Barbara Boxer, also from California, is running for office again. But her spokesman, Peter True, how ironic that name is, stated that "Sen. Boxer has spent her entire career standing up to powerful special interests." Yet lobbyists, who are among the most powerful special interest groups, were among the top 10 sources of contributions for Sen. Boxer when she won re-election in 2010. To deny the possibility of at least some kind of payback for that support would be naive to say the least. The actor Paul Newman said it best in the movie "Absence of Malice." When asked why he had donated money to a certain group, which was his way of getting even with a reporter who had caused the death of a young girl, he said, "Because they do good work." I'll bet my house that lobbyists don't give money to members of Congress "because they do good work." Why do we allow special interest groups to give money, or perhaps in some cases special favors, to our elected representatives? Are we stupid, or what?