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If Lobbying Money Talks, the African American Constituency is Muted on Capitol Hill

Posted by lunchcountersitin on March 31, 2009

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
- First Amendment of the US Constitution

The Constitution makes it clear that Americans have the right petition the government to redress their grievances. But the Constitution says nothing about the money that’s needed to do this petitioning.

And if money is needed to effectively petition for the redress of our grievances, then the black community may be grieving in quiet.

A review of lobbying expenditures in 2008 shows that major lobbyists for the African American constituency – the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the National Urban League – spent a pittance compared to the lobbying powerhouses of Washington, DC.

As wikipedia describes it, “Lobbying is the practice of influencing decisions made by government. It includes all attempts to influence legislators and officials, whether by other legislators, constituents or organized groups. Governments often define and regulate organized group lobbying.”

In Washington, DC, millions of dollars are spent annually to lobby the Congress or the Administration for one thing or another. According to a recent edition of the National Journal, these are the lobbying expenditures for the top 15 firms in 2008:
1. US Chamber of Commerce: $62.3 million
2. Institute for Legal Reform (US Chamber): $29.2 M
3. ExxonMobil: $29.0 M
4. AARP: $27.9 M
5. Northrop Grumman: $20.6 M
6. PhRMA: $20.2 M
7. American Medical Association: $20.9 M
8. GE: $18.6 M
9. National Assn of Realtors: $17.2 M

10. American Hospital Association: $16.7 M
11. Boeing: $16.6 M
12. Lockheed Martin: $15.3 M
13. Koch Industries: $15.1 M
14. AT&T Services (and affiliates): $15.0 M
15. National Cable and Telecommunications Association: $14.2 M

And this is what the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the National Urban League – the biggest lobbying organizations for the African American constituency – spent in 2008:
• NAACP: $100,000
• the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF): $160,000
• the National Urban League (NUL): $240,00

Also in 2008, the National Black Caucus of State Legislators had $54,000 in lobbying expenditures.

By contrast, the National Council of La Raza , which advocates for the Hispanic community, had lobbying expenditures of $534,108 in 2008. That’s more than the combined lobbying spending of the NAACP, the LDF, and the NUL in the same year. Also representing Hispanic interests was the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, which spent $153,355 on lobbying.

The OpenSecrets.org site has a list of spending by so-called ‘Human Rights’ lobbyists in 2008 here. None of the organizations on the list matches the spending power of the business lobbyists. Total Human Rights lobbying spending amounted to $47,842,696 for the year.

(Interestingly enough, total lobbying expenditures by various Native American groups dwarfs that of African Americans and Hispanics. But then, Native Americans have very little in the way of representation in the Congress or the Obama administration.)

One of the biggest Human Rights lobbyists in 2008 was the The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), which had $1,054,370 of lobbying expenditures.

The LCCR is a civil rights coalition, consisting of nearly 200 national organizations, including the NAACP, the NUL, and even several black black fraternities and sororities. But it also represents labor unions, women, children, individuals with disabilities, older Americans, Jewish and Christian groups, gays and lesbians, and civil liberties and human rights groups. It’s not clear how much or how well the specific interests of the African American constituency are served by the LCCR.

And given the relatively small amount of resources that the NAACP and NUL have to lobby Congress and the Administration, one has to wonder if it even comes close to enabling these groups to effectively tell their message to the powers that be.

Original Post

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"But the Constitution says nothing about the money that’s needed to do this petitioning."


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Which makes needing money to petition our own government for redress unconstitutional.  


Also, why would it even cost millions of dollars to "lobby" Congress?  What is all those millions being used on?  Evidently, the millions being spent by "lobbyists" (bribery) is going into the off-shore bank accounts of politicians in Washington.  There is nothing else they could be doing with that much money.  


Why would it cost anyone or any company, or any group millions of dollars to speak with a Congressperson on the phone or in person or meet with Congress?  "Lobbying" is just another word for buying legislation/laws to suit your desires; what else could it possibly be?  


And so obvious, yet average Americans do nothing about it as a group.

 

And given the relatively small amount of resources that the NAACP and NUL have to lobby Congress and the Administration, one has to wonder if it even comes close to enabling these groups to effectively tell their message to the powers that be.

 

One really doesn't have to wonder about that at all.  The answer is no way in hell!! 

 

The last thing Black people are spending their $1 Trillion annual spending power on is the benefit - political or otherwise - of ourselves.  And most Black people don't respect either of those organizations - or anybody or any other entity - enough to rally behind them and provide them with the political power/clout to lobby on our behalf.

 

Besides enormous amounts of money that those groups listed above generate ... they also have unity and 'strategic alliances' that they are willing to pool together with to further their political goals and obtain legislative favors.  Black people are too fractured and segregated to be able to agree on a "Black agenda" ... or even agree with anyone else who may develop and present one (and there have been many ... all of which essentially say the same thing ... but are rejected by people who don't "like" that person!!!!) ... let alone effectively support one.

 

If there's any consolation, I suppose, it's that the Hispanic community is no more organized or politically savvy than we are.  But, they'll get there before we do.  They are more making their in-roads at the local levels right now.  But they are willing to co-operate to further their goals.  Which will take them farther faster.  Which is why organizations like the NAACP are trying to 'hitch our mule to their wagon,' even today!!

Originally Posted by sunnubian:

"But the Constitution says nothing about the money that’s needed to do this petitioning."


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Which makes needing money to petition our own government for redress unconstitutional.  


 

Not exactly .... as there are laws and legislation in place that (at least right now - today!!) .. make the practice perfectly "legal."

 

If there was only one campaign promise that President Obama made that I KNEW he was never going to be able to keep ... it was to reign in lobbying in Congress and cut the amount granted in "earmarks" to the individual states for their little pet projects (remember the Alaska "Bridge to Nowhere"??).

 

Not that 'bribing' our government is right ... but, technically/legally ... it's not "wrong" either. 

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