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Thursday, October 29, 2009


In chapter 9, we discuss ways in which interest groups try to influence lawmakers. Most analyses emphasize PAC contributions. And although campaign money is part of the story, influence also depends on grassroots support. We cite AARP, which has never made any campaign contributions but wields power because it has millions of members who will write their lawmakers. The Hill offers the example of the American Petroleum Institute, which helped set up "Energy Citizen" rallies against global-warming legislation. And individual firms come into play, too:
“The oil and gas sector writ large is just not loved up on the Hill. But our employees are, especially the ones at the plants out in the states,” said Stephen Brown, a lobbyist with Tesoro Corp., a large oil refiner.

Tesoro’s corporate offices are in Texas, but its refineries are located in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Utah and North Dakota, a state that could play an outsized role in the climate debate as home to two Democratic senators who have expressed unease with the cap-and-trade bill.

Tesoro CEO Bruce Smith toured the company’s refineries this summer to talk about the House climate bill, noting that the free allowances the industry would receive don’t come close to covering its emissions. Refiners say the climate bill could force many domestic companies out of business.

The company has also set up a website,, where employees can see whom they should call, send an e-mail or write a letter. ... Brown said Tesoro employees have been eager to participate in the new grassroots campaign. At some plants as many as 80 percent of the workers have used the new site.

“They get that if there is a negative impact on our sector it will have a negative impact on their jobs,” Brown said.

Of course, campaign money remains in the news, as The Hill reports:

Dozens of lobbyists were invited to a Democratic National Committee (DNC) fundraiser Tuesday night with a Cabinet member even though President Barack Obama has sworn off taking money from lobbyists.

A DNC official said it was a mistake that lobbyists were invited to a small gathering with Lisa Jackson, Obama’s administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The official said a review of attendees indicates that no lobbyists attended the event.

The invitation, which was obtained by The Hill, was sent to lobbying firms, however. And it invited employees to join Jackson and DNC national finance chairwoman Jane Stetson at the Georgetown home of Frank Loy, a former State Department official in the Clinton administration.