Rep. Murphey: Limiting the power of lobbyists

Rep. Murphey: Limiting the power of lobbyists

I once watched, “The Best Government Money Can Buy,” a documentary that details the considerable influence of lobbyists over the development and implementation of policy.

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It also clearly illustrates some of the constitutional and practical barriers to the various proposals designed to limit the power of special influence.

In reality, this documentary (no doubt like many similar pieces of literature and video designed to expose the influence of special interests) actually offers little in the way of a solution.

Upon the conclusion of the movie, the viewer could easily become depressed and conclude that nothing can be done. The courts have made it clear: political contributions should be treated as free speech and will always be the constitutional right of the donor.

While it is important to bring transparency and openness to these contributions, there are important boundaries that government cannot cross in limiting who may give to a political campaign and who may not. This frustrates many who understand the problem but are unable to provide a solution.

In reality, this leaves two real solutions to reducing the influence of lobbyists and big money in politics while complying with the important constitutional free speech protections.

The first method is to elect citizen legislators who do not accept contributions from groups that have lobbyists. This is tough, because there are only a handful of legislators who have made this commitment.

There’s a great calling for new candidates who will step forward on the platform of refusing lobbyist money. And I believe strongly that voters must support these candidates.

I now believe that the ultimate way to limit the influence of special interests is the all-too-often ignored solution of limiting the size of government.

If government had not intruded into every aspect of life, the ability of the powerful, rich, special interests groups to influence power would be limited.

Put simply, the reason so many invest so much into government is because they seek to leverage the power of the government to work in their own interests.

I have observed that the same groups who decry the power of the wealthy and their influence over politics oftentimes suggest that the solution to the problem is to expand the size and scope of government.

Expanding the size of government additionally empowers those who have the wealth to buy influence with the politicians that control the government.

Ultimately, the way to empower the average individual is to reduce the power of government over his life. This puts the individual back in charge of his own destiny and takes away the ability of others to control him.

Jason Murphey
Jason.Murphey@hd31.org
@JWMurphey

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