Lobbying as a Vehicle for Change
The field of lobbying is often equated with corruption, money-swindling and malicious intent – “not exactly a pretty picture,” said Raymond R. Krause, former Dean and Professor of Law at Hamline University School of Law as well as a former lobbyist.
However, Krause asserted that the essence of the field is advocating for or against change. In short, lobbying is about being policy advocates.
“The Art of Lobbying” lecture recently in Elizabeth Hall room 319 set to educate students on the history of lobbying and highlighting why the field can be both problematic and promising.
“Social change comes about through lobbying,” said Krause. “I happen to have a large corporate background, but they’re those advocating for animal rights, immigration, LGBTQ+ rights to members of Congress. They, too, are lobbyists.”
After leaving the business community to become dean of the law school in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1994, Krause found himself talking about his previous experiences in the field to the law students in his legislative drafting classes.
“Students would come up with these questions: ‘You were a lobbyist, dude. How much money did you slip under the table?’ it was apparent that the view my students had was contrary to my perception of the profession,” Krause said during his Feb. 16 lecture.
Working with members of Congress to influence policy, a lobbyist has three vital roles: advocate, translator, and adjunct. A lobbyist not only brings issues to a congressman’s attention, helping members work on issues outside their experience base, but also the lobbyist becomes a resource, “translating” jargon into layman’s terms and compiling quality data into well-crafted arguments. “Lobbying is an important piece of getting legislation through,” said Krause.
However, Krause also addressed how lobbying has changed through a lack of restraint and a lack of consequences, largely due to polarization.
“Polarization of parties has deteriorated the integrity of lobbying. When no one’s listening to each other, there is a disparity of balance.” A main motivator for continuing this lobbyist education after retirement is Krause’s own hope that future lobbyists will reestablish that ideal. “I made it a point to be bipartisan,” said Krause. “I worked for people I thought would do good.”
Krause’s journey to the field began in his undergrad studies in Foreign Service at Georgetown University. “They were very good about teaching me what the foreign services were about, and, by the time I graduated in 1973, I knew I definitely did not want to do that.”
Working as a staffer for U.S. Sen. Peter H. Dominick of Colorado, Krause recalled thinking of lobbyists, “I want to be one of those guys,” and he pursued a law degree at night because “all of them were lawyers.”
His time as a staff person on Capitol Hill also put him right at the door of an infamous scandal in American political history. “We were walking down the hall and heard all this hubbub going on in this big hearing room with all these cameras. ‘Should we step in, or should we have lunch?’ we thought. We decided to have lunch,” said Krause. “Turns out that hubbub was The Watergate hearings.”
To those wanting to pursue lobbying, Krause insists that the field is about “building relationships with Congress members and their staff, focusing on a cause, and figuring out who are the key players in that issue,” he said. “You’ve got to be in it and at it.”