Years ago, “lawyer” was a dirty word. The mere mention prompted eyes rolls and groans. Today, That word is “lobbyist.” There is no greater enemy of the public than “lobbyists” and “special interests” who desperately want to squander your hard-earned tax dollars.
In fact, when someone gets labeled a “lobbyist,” the damage can be irreversible. In a more extreme case it’s like calling someone a “racist” or a “deadbeat dad.” Conversation over, because there is just no recovering from that.
When Christie decided to go after authorities, boards and commissions he honed in on their lobbying practices which in fairness sound a bit outrageous. As the Governor pointed out Tuesday, it seems a bit convoluted for government agencies to pay lobbyists to lobby government.
But lobbyists naturally have a different view. They argue that Trenton can be a bit of a maze, and without getting someone to look after your interests, it is more than likely you’ll get lost in the shuffle. That is particularly true for some of the smaller authorities ( amongst the 700 that exist ) which are trying to secure precious state dollars in today’s belt-tightening environment. After all, “getting attention for anything in Trenton these days is tough.”
And here is the thing…assuming you cut-off these quasi-governmental agencies’ ability to lobby directly via contract they are simply going to hire someone in-house. So, if you’re paying a firm say, 3k a month to lobby, good luck finding a qualified candidate for 60 grand who knows the ins and outs of how Trenton does business.
What was also notable Tuesday was Christie’s shift in tone. Shortly after using the words “we intend to get these authorities under control,” Christie said he looks forward to working with Senator Weinberg ( who has a bill ) and others in the legislature. That is a different approach than the one the Governor took with the COAH EO. At the time, Christie was asked if he would work with Sen. Lesniak ( who has a bill ), and Christie said he would be willing to, but needs to approach the COAH situation on a “separate track.” Of course, we know what happened with the COAH EO ( see previous post ).
So maybe the court’s action and all the “why didn’t you include us” from Democrats on mid-year budge cuts are finally getting through.