Measuring political influence is a hard problem. And depending on how you set about measuring it, you can come to very different conclusions.Continue reading
With the help of the lobbying industry, Washington’s regional economy seems to have weathered the economic storm of recent years. Curiously, though, the seemingly simple question “How much lobbying is there in Washington?” is surprisingly hard to answer. After Congress passed the 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), which ostensibly required all “lobbyists” to report their activities on behalf of paying clients, the answer should be a no-brainer: just find the legally-mandated disclosure forms, and count them up. The Center for Responsive Politics, with support from the Sunlight Foundation, has been doing this (well!) for years.
The problem is that just about everybody in the influence world knows that these numbers fall way short of reality. You might even say “under-the-radar,” “stealth,” or “shadow” lobbying is a bit of an Open Secret in Washington. What we don’t know is just how many shadow lobbyists there are.Continue reading