… Tell Your Congressperson to Have Goodwill Toward Their Constituents!

In the results of the election, a lot of truths have been unearthed- the demographics and values of the United States, the power and limits of corporate money to influence elections, and the real significance of votes.

Over $629 million in Super PAC spending didn’t sway U.S. voters as significantly as expected, but in the coming months will the billions spent in corporate lobbying sway Congress?

Lobbying is a multi-billion dollar industry. While it’s technically true that you and I (or any constituent really) can lobby or try to persuade their legislators, most lobbying is funded by -and promotes- corporate interests. Since 2008, Wall Street has spent over $2.2 billion on lobbying, largely in order to weaken and squirm out of financial regulation. Add in the pharmaceutical, HMO, agribusiness, business, oil & energy, and defense/militarism sectors and we’re talking nearly $4 billion spent specifically to get corporations unprecedented (and undue) influence over all those folks we just elected to office.

We need to make sure all the new and re-elected members of Congress know that we elected them to represent us, not Wall Street and its cadre of lobbyists.

Can you take just a few hours in December to make a world of difference on this issue?

You and your representatives will both be back in your hometowns and districts during the month of December. Congress takes a recess, but you can still easily set up a meeting with your Congressperson in their district. Take the time to set up a meeting, put on a nice sweater and go tell your representative that you want them to commit to not being overrun by big bank lobbyists.

Here’s how:

  1. Look up your representative: {http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt}
  2. Call their office and set up a meeting for when you’re both home just before the holiday break.
  3. Do some research- look up how much campaign money your representative received from different companies and look into the DC connections of lobbyists representing those companies.
  4. Write this information down in a notepad, along with other questions you’d like to ask. If you need ideas, here are some of our favorites:
  • How many lobbyists from Wall Street arrange meetings with you?
  • How many lobbyists do you plan to meet with during this term?
  • If lobbyists give lots of gifts and throw lavish parties, does it influence your vote on their issues?
  • Are some lobbyists in DC perceived as bullies? Is there any way we can help you focus on your job without all these lobbyists trying to influence you all the time?
  • Have you ever seen a scorecard that shows campaign contributions before? Do you feel comfortable with how much money you received from Wall Street and your ability to put your constituents first? (If they were in office last year, you can show them Global Exchange’s Legislative Scorecard and measure  their ‘loyalty rate’ to Wall Street’s lobby position on key bills like Dodd-Frank!)
  • What would you like to see change in DC in the realm on campaign contributions and lobbying?
  1. When you meet, dress neatly and write down the answers!
  2. Take a picture with your senator/representative and an Elect Democracy sticker if you can.
  3. Email them to Global Exchange since students around the country will be sending in answers. Together, we’ll be able to see who’s willing to make some real commitments to say NO to lobbyists next year!

Boom- you’re done! All in all, it should take less than 3 hours, but it makes a huge difference not only for your Congressperson, but in helping to create a culture where politicians become more wary of the lobbyists and campaign contributions coming from Wall Street and other industries that want to put their profits before a healthy democratic process.

TAKE ACTION: Leave a comment confirming you can meet with your Representative in December!