This week I read an article in the Herald Review detailing how Itasca County hired a lobbyist to represent the county’s interests at the state level. I must say before I continue it is a given that at least most counties and certainly many cities as well employ lobbyists for this purpose. Failure to do so would place the county at a distinct disadvantage when competing with other entities for legislative attention. The details in the referenced article, and the name of the lobbyist, are not necessary to this conversation, but I will put a link to that article at the end of this one for those who are interested in reading it.
I think we need to seriously ask the question, “How did we get to the point at which this is deemed necessary and beneficial?”
It seems to me to be completely obvious that the way our system was originally intended to work was for the people to elect their representative, who would then vote for the interests of the constituency without intermediate influence. Have we now come to a mutation of the system whereby we must, in addition to voting for representation we must also pay a lobbyist to encourage that representative to listen to us? Certainly, as I have pointed out, if one entity, in this case a county, does not hire a lobbyist, that entity puts itself at an extreme disadvantage, but does this situation really benefit us in the long run?
We have somewhere along the way installed what might be described as an additional layer of government. The lobbyist appears to have become a necessary fixture between the constituents and their representatives. I am afraid that the primary result of this may well be the scenario in which the ones who spend the most and hire the best lobbyists get the most representation.
Is it time to reform this system of lobbying which has appeared on our landscape?
Here is the link for those who would like to see the article which started me thinking about this topic: Solberg to serve as legislative lobbyist for Itasca County – Grand Rapids Herald-Review: News.