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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Lobbying by Governments, Foreign & Domestic

Corporations are not the only organizations that lobby in Washington. As we note in our chapters on interest groups (pp. 289-290) and federalism (pp. 89-90), foreign and domestic governments also have representatives in Washington.

The Open Secrets blog reports on one foreign government at the center of the news right now:
LOBBYISTS FOR PAKISTAN: What do you do when you're a foreign government facing heat from U.S. lawmakers about whether you were officially hiding, aiding or abetting Osama bin Laden? Turn to federal lobbyists for assistance, of course. "Pakistan will likely call upon Washington lobbyists to help repair its fraught U.S. relations after Osama bin Laden was found and killed in the country Sunday," The Hill reported Tuesday. The newspaper goes on to note that "Locke Lord Strategies has been lobbying for the Pakistani embassy since May 2008, earning more than $1.9 million in fees, according to Justice Department records."

Locke Lord Strategies' lobbying team is headed by Mark Siegel, a long-time Democratic operative who previously worked in the White House during Democrat Jimmy Carter's presidency. According to research by the Center for Responsive Politics, Siegel donated $1,000 to both Hillary Clinton, now the U.S. Secretary of State, during her failed 2008 presidential bid. During the 2008 election cycle, his wife, Judith Siegel, who is a consultant to the State Department and an adjunct faculty member at New York University, meanwhile, donated $3,550 to Barack Obama.

Furthermore, during the 2010 election cycle, Mark Siegel donated about $1,800 to his law firm's political action committee. The PAC raised a total of $301,050 during the 2010 election cycle, and doled out $195,850 to federal candidates, with 65 percent of that sum benefiting Democrats and 35 percent benefiting Republicans, according to the Center's research. Many of these beneficiaries will now be weighing how much financial assistance the United States should continue to provide to Pakistan. During the past decade, the United States has provided Pakistan with about $20 billion in aid.

Siegel is also a close friend to former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in 2007. And he has no plans to terminate his contract with Pakistan in the wake of bin Laden's death. "I have had a 27-year relationship with Pakistan," Siegel told The Hill. "I would never walk away from them."
The Galena government spent $60,000 on federal lobbying efforts in 2010, representing $127.66 per capita -- the highest rate of any state, county or municipal government in the United States, according to a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of federal lobbying and U.S. Census data. In 2009, Galena spent $40,000. The city's annual budget is about $5 million, according to a municipal document from 2007.

For doling out about one percent of its budget on lobbying, Galena reaped around $1.5 million in capital projects grants "which are being used to repair antiquated utilities when the Air Force abandoned Galena and left us high and dry," Corrigan said.

This means that for every dollar spent on federal lobbying efforts in 2010, Galena scored $25 in return.

In contrast, the Los Angeles city government likewise spent $60,000 on federal lobbying in 2010, which represents 1.5 cents for each of its nearly 3.8 million residents. The city's annual budget, meanwhile, is about $6.7 billion according to its most recent budget report.

In 2010, state, territory, county, parish, borough, city, town and village governments spent more than $77.4 million lobbying the federal government, down from a record high of $83 million in 2009, according to the Center's research.