Gary is taking a break this week from consulting, blogging and politics. He invited several TAPsters to contribute blogs during his hiatus. Here’s one of them:
One of the most distasteful and useless public policy efforts in North Carolina is underway, and hardly anyone knows it.
The NC Center for Public Policy Research has launched its tawdry, biennial process to rank the effectiveness of the stateâs lobbyists. The Center sends a paper ballot to lobbyists, reporters and legislators so they can vote for the lobbyists who they think have the most clout. After the conclusion of the short session, the Center will publish the results as an alleged ranking of the top 50 lobbyists in the state.
Here are the reasons that a dignified organization like the Center should cease this sham, which is nothing more than a job fair for lobbyists.
1. The rankings are meaningless. Lobbyists vote for themselves and their friends. Legislators vote for who twisted their arm or gave them money. Reporters screw this up like most everything else. The pitiful, mediocre lobbyists lobby friends and colleagues to include them on their ballots. Any lobbyist who asks for this vote should be drummed out of the business.
2. The best lobbyists are near the bottom of the list or not on the list at all. The truly best lobbyists do their work quietly and with dignity and donât care whether they are on the list or not. And, never in a million years would they stoop so low as to ask someone to vote for them. Indeed, some of the highest ranked lobbyists in past years were fools whose sole source of influence was from a large PAC or the economic clout of their client.
3. Contract lobbyists who make the list use it when they are trolling for clients, suggesting (and lying) to naïve prospects that a high ranking is a validation of influence and political expertise. At the very least, the Center should prohibit the use of the rankings to generate business.
4. Electing a high school prom queen is more sophisticated than the Centerâs process. Thereâs nothing scientific about it at all and nothing to prevent a lobbyist from making dozens of copies of the ballot and stuffing the ballot box with their name. And, for years, thereâs been the unfounded assumption that the Center staff âadjustsâ the list to make it look politically correct.