Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lobbying Shifts Sharply to Think Tank Land

The culture of influence-peddling is changing rapidly, and more people are trying to influence policy through think tanks rather than directly through Congress.

A new piece in Time Magazine written by Erin Quinn and Chris Young of Center for Public Integrity says that Washington influencers are spending more on advertising and PR than lobbying.  Here is more:
The steady rise in public relations worldwide spending has been accompanied by an overall drop in lobbying spending, beyond the trade group sector.
Lobbying expenditures peaked in 2010, when special interests spent $3.6 billion on lobbying federal lawmakers. Since then, they have declined steadily, falling to $3.2 billion in 2013, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The total number of registered lobbyists has also dropped.
Some say the change indicates a shift toward so-called “soft lobbying,” a strategy that enables industry groups and unions to influence public policy not only with public relations, but through think tanks, nonprofit organizations and grassroots groups that aren’t subject to federal disclosure rules.

The article goes on to note one example where American Petroleum Institute (API) hired PR firm Edelman to help with its so-called "Vote4Energy" campaign, and they worked together to organize a panel discussion targeting "key influencers" such as think tank scholars.