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Yes, lobbyists lobby

My dictionary defines a lobbyist as one who tries to influence the thinking of legislators or other public officials.

In my experience, much of what a lobbyist does is educate legislators about their issues from the point of view of their principal. So, a lobbyist representing the timber industry is going to try to inform legislators about the issues important to their industry and is probably not going to spend much time discussing environmental concerns.

An article appearing in the Sept. 15 Spokesman-Review, written by Betsy Russell, discussed the role of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, an organization that claims tax-exempt status as an educational organization in influencing legislation.

Wayne Hoffman, president of the foundation, defends its activities as educational. He said, in his view, even drafting bills isn’t lobbying. Of their helping legislators create good public policy, Hoffman says, “It’s educational.”

In most instances, legislators welcome the education lobbyists can provide. But few of them consider it anything other than lobbying. The IRS should, too.

Bob Wynhausen



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