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The Skepticism Lobbyists Must Overcome

Americans Think Lobbying, Scandals, / Bribery Go Together
After the fallout surrounding Jack Abramoff"s guilty plea on fraud and bribery charges, a Harris Poll found that only four percent of U.S. adults believed that to have been an isolated case, as compared to 86 percent who think he is just one of many who happened to get caught.  This attitude crosses party lines; fully 80 percent of Republicans believed Abramoff was one of many, while 90 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Independents felt the same.
One of the effects of this issue in Washington has been for both parties to introduce legislation to place more restrictions on what lobbyists and members of Congress can do.  When asked what the effect of these new laws and restrictions would be on the political culture in Washington, D.C., the public is skeptical. Almost three-quarters of adults believe that even with new laws, things will remain the same and only 12 percent believe there will be change in the political culture.  Though the American public may have heard such talk in the past, they seem unconvinced that there will be any follow-through by members of Congress.
What the Public Wants
When asked about some specific lobbying reforms, the skepticism remains, but is tempered a little.  Just over half of adults believe that having all contributors, the amount they give, and who they give to posted immediately on the Internet would change things, while a similar percentage believes having a ban on lobbyists paying for travel for politicians would change the way things are done in Washington. Less than half believe a ban on lobbyist-paid meals and gifts would change things in Washington, and almost the same number believe having all contacts between lobbyists and governmental officials posted on the Internet would change the way things are done.  Finally, only 29 percent think a ban on former members having access to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives would change things, while 45 percent believe this reform would not make any difference.
With a lot more transparency, the term "lobbyism- may one day stop connoting scandal and greed.

By Michelle Simmons
Get Lobbyist Jobs, Contributing Editor

Source: “Very Few U.S. Adults Believe the Jack Abramoff Case is an Isolated Incident,” Jan. 24, 2006. Harris Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.

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