Case Study Policy Networks, professional lobbyists and politicians


Revolving Door

John Boehner ran a business before he joined Congress. In 2016, he left his position as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and returned to the private sector, (this is called the Revolving Door) advising Squire Patton Boggs. SPB is one of the most influential professional lobbyists in the United States, with major clients such as Amazon, AT&T, Goldman Sachs and the Turkish government. SPB employs many former politicians and advisers with insider knowledge and contacts with the current Congress. It uses its expertise and connections to influence the legislative process on behalf of its clients. Are the services of professional lobbyists good for democracy?. The expense of using professional lobbyists, means that most private individuals and interest groups will not be able to afford these services, so they cement the advantages of the corporate elite. However, they also work for public interest groups such as Common Cause and may be seen as a way experienced politicians, diplomats or military personnel can continue to contribute to public life.

Politicians' family members often work for - or create - professional lobbyist organisations. The lure of future million-dollar salaries encourages politicians to work closely with these organisations when in office. This brings a significant danger that politicians will work for the interest of themselves, their family and big business, but not the public.

Politicians, former politicians working for professional lobbyists and corporations can create a policy network that strongly influences law-making while excluding other interests. This community of decision-makers often excludes environmental groups, health groups and workers. Evidence for this can be seen in policy outcomes. For example, professional lobbyists working with the gambling industry used their connections with then Senate Minority leader Harry Reid to add just 54 words to a spending bill in 2015, (New York Times Report )which saved the industry almost $1 billion in taxes. Despite the Republican Party's emphasis on economic austerity, it is willing to allow such tax cuts, pushed by lobbyists such as David Lugar,Open Secrets Lobbying by David Lugar son of former Senator Richard Lugar, while cutting expenditure in other areas, such as welfare.