How to work with a lobbyist
Both legislative and regulatory processes are complex. To
move even simple proposals, it is extremely helpful to have
access to a professional
. They know all the
traps for bills, the political dynamics, the history of what's
been tried, which policymakers to approach first, watch for
crises, etc. It's certainly not necessary, but access to a
lobbyist, even just for consultation, can be immensely helpful.
Experience is the worst teacher, it gives the test before presenting
-- Vernon Law
If you are lucky enough to have the resources to hire your own
lobbyist, be very grateful. Be reasonable with their time and your
expectations. If not, you will need to work with a group
that has a lobbyist - a coalition already working on issues similar to
yours and your professional organization are good places to start. You
may be able to advocate with other groups to include your issue on their
legislative agenda, and get access to the services of their lobbyist.
For example, religious and civic groups may take on a health issue if
they realize that it fits with their goals and furthers their mission.
Some tips for working with lobbyists (and other consultants):
- Understand that they are not miracle workers. The best
lobbyist in the world cannot get universal health care passed right
now. While lobbyists can help make the process smooth, they can't
walk on water.
- Be reasonable. Understand that they have other clients and
that they have lives. Try to be low-maintenance. This is especially
true if you are "borrowing" their services from another
- Listen. They were hired for their expertise, so take their
advice seriously. They want you to succeed. You are paying for good
advice, take it.
- Be open. Let them know that you want (and can handle)
honesty. Too many advocates do not want to hear the truth and are
puzzled by surprises when their lobbyist tried to warn them.
- Communicate. Let them know what you know. Fully explain the
issue so they can answer questions. If you get a call from a
policymaker, a notice about your issue, a new study is published,
something important happens in DC, or anything that seems relevant,
make sure that your lobbyist knows about it. They can't represent
you well if they don't have all the pieces.
- Do not ask for personal favors outside the scope of your
- Be available. If your lobbyist calls and says it is a
critical stage and you need to come to Hartford to meet with a
legislator who is wavering - Go. If they need a quick fact sheet to
address a misconception about your issue - Write it.
Your lobbyist wants you to succeed. Support and trust him or her so
they can help you.
In Separated by Velvet Ropes published
5/25/03 in the Hartford Courant's Northeast magazine, Kevin Rennie
describes the culture and frenzy at the end of the legislative session.
A former Senator, his description is vivid and accurate.
Advocacy for Organizations - Choosing Your Issue(s)
Navigating the Legislative Process
Legislators - Who are They?
The Importance of Legislative Staff
The Proper Care and Feeding of a
Research - Finding and Using Data
Rules and customs for navigating within
the Legislative Office Building and the State Capitol
Directions to the Legislative Office
Building and the State Capitol
Visiting with a Policymaker
Calling a Policymaker
Writing to Policymakers
Letter Raising a Concern
Letter Opposing a Proposal
Letter Supporting a Proposal
Sample Fact Sheet 1
Sample Fact Sheet 2
Tips No Advocate should forget
How to work with campaigns
Collaborations and Coalitions
Connecticut's Budget Process
How a Bill Becomes a Law
How to testify at a Public Hearing
How to Create Fact Sheets and
Back to Top