Legislative leaders in Massachusetts who are today asking business leaders for money for a conference are the same leaders who next session will be sitting in judgment on legislation affecting those businesses.
Political lobbying is mildly repulsive at best. It is also highly effective.
Businesses and organizations, including state and local governments, often see enormous returns on their lobbying investments. Those who lament the existence of lobbying, like those who lament the existence of big money in politics, should remember that the First Amendment confers broad protections on the activities of lobbyists and donors. Both are permanent fixtures of our politics.
That said, there are both specific rules that govern lobbying and broader principles that should guide our thinking about it. Together, they can help prevent a descent from mildly to thoroughly repulsive.
Just how subtly slippery a slope we face is illustrated by a June 29 report in The Boston Globe detailing how Democratic legislative leaders in Massachusetts are trying to raise $2.2 million to pay for a meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures, to be held Aug. 5-9 in Boston.
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