The Future of Lobbying in Missouri
The next legislative session is just two weeks away. So with the news slowing to a pre-holiday trickle, I thought I’d share what I’ve heard as I’ve asked folks over the last week: what does the future of lobbying look like in Missouri?
While there were dissenting opinions, here are the big takeaways…
Shoe Leather Lobbying
It’s been two decades since the last major shift in lobbying in Missouri began to occur… term limits. Passed in 1992, it is the single biggest contributor to the current lobbying mix in Missouri. Many of the giants of the previous era have retired or been eclipsed as the value of their incumbent relationships started to have a shelf life.
The result is that hard work is now an essential component of a thriving lobbying practice. With the legislators in a constant eight-year churn, the ability to pass, modify or block legislation today is no guarantee of being able to do that in the future.
“Shoe leather” is shorthand for hard work, the process – for which there are no shortcuts – of meeting and getting to know the legislators. It’s a twelve-month a year job. One lobbyist said his team track their mileage as an indicator of their efforts to go out and visit the new legislators in their home district before session, before any lobbying would occur. If real estate is about location, location, location, then lobbing is about relationships, relationships, relationships.
Another important development has been the rise of social media. While some lobbyists deride Twitter and Facebook (“I don’t need to tell people what I had for lunch…”), many lobbyists have found social media to be an invaluable tool for receiving information.
For starters, most legislators joined Twitter and Facebook during their campaigns. So if they’re on it, it makes sense for the lobbyists to be on it too. It gives them added insight into the legislators – what’s going on with their family, who’s in their sphere of influence.
Furthermore, one lobbyist described part of his job as being his clients’ eyes and ears. Because legislators are more and more speaking directly to their constituents through social media (instead of through traditional media), he has to be on social media to stay up-to-date. He can’t wait for the newspaper reporters to read the tweets and then tell him. It’s too late by then, his client may have already heard the news.
The Larger Game
It’s hard to write a piece about how the lobbying game may be changing in Missouri without naming Rex Sinquefield. He has transformed Missouri politics with his willingness to write huge checks for his causes. And that has impacted the lobbying business as well. But while the big money has not overcome “relationships” as the prime mover in the business, it is a symptom about how the big issues (there’s one or two a session) seem to require more than lobbying. They tend to marshal an extensive out-of-the-building team just as much as a platoon of hard-working lobbyists. The trade associations, some public relations help, a social media component, someone to bring the bus-loads of people, and light the phones, but most of all – someone to quarterback it all. Lobbyists need to see where they fit into the picture, how those other components can help (sometimes they hurt) them get their client what they want.
Grisamore’s Son Suffers Attack
From the Twitterfeed, Rep. Jeff Grisamore: “Requesting prayer for my son, Joel. He just went into facial reconstruction surgery in Columbia after attack by 2 unknown assailants…. COMO Police have leads on attack on my son, Joel. We're hopeful arrests will be made. He was beaten unconscious & it continued after”
Next week will be the much beloved, begrudged, bewailed, and bemoaned end-of-the-year Readers Polls…
Now accepting nominations for Monday’s lobbyist theme… Lobbying Firm on the Ascent, Most Underrated Lobbyist (contract and in-house categories), Best Team Player Lobbyist, Best Lobbyist to Quarterback a Big Issue, “Gives Lobbying a Good Name” Award.
Tuesday’s legislature theme… Best Legislator on the Floor (House and Senate categories), Legislator Most Likely to Get Something Done (Republican and Democrat categories), Legislator Who Does His/Her Homework, Most Likely to Ascend to Leadership.
Wednesday’s Jeff City theme… Best Place to Be Seen, Best Place for a Clandestine Meeting, Finest Dining, Best Chicken Wings, Best Morning Coffee, Best Hotel.
Missouri Society of Interventional Pain Physicians PAC. A political action committee. For ASIPP of Missouri. See the website here. Former Rep. and St. Louis County Councilman Sam Page is on their board. The deputy treasurer of the PAC is Kate Casas, lobbyist with Pelopidas which represents this group of docs.
Chelsea Merta for the 7th Ward Alderman. Longtime St. Louis City Alderwoman Phyllis Young announced her retirement. (For those who love the city-watching, it allows a shuffle of committeeman chairmanships based on seniority.) Already announced is Jack Coatar. He’s with the city prosecutor’s office, formerly the executive director of the City Young Dems, and a protégé of 7th Ward Committeeman Brian Wahby. Now come Merta. She’s also an attorney and the policy director of Faith Aloud.
Harry Gallagher, Heath Clarkston, and Kimberly Akin added 3M Company; and deleted 3M/Traffic Control Material Division.
Friends of Tom Schweich - $10,000 from Jerry Sumners Sr.
Hanaway for Governor - $10,000 from Rex Sinquefield.
Grow Missouri - $19,141 from TeachGreat.Org.
Happy birthdays to Sen-elect Paul Wieland, Rep. Lindell Shumake (65), former Rep. John Cauthorn (68), and Joe Palm.
Christmas: David Christian (66).
Friday: Reps. Todd Richardson (38) and Stanley Cox (65).
Saturday: Rep. Jay Barnes (35).
Sunday: Rep. Sue Entlicher (64), former Rep. Michael Spreng (67), LuAnn Madsen, and Renee Hulshof.
To Slay’s Jeff Rainford, recovering from an emergency appendectomy.
I’m on vacation, folks! No Weekly Poll or Who Won the Week etc. See you on Monday, but pleeeeeease, send me some nominations for the Readers Polls next week…. I’m gone….