December, 2013 Campaign Update

Dec 31st, 2013 | By | Category: Newsletters
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Advocacy vs. Lobbying – What I really do on Capitol Hill
(A shorter condensed version of this appeared in a non-political article I wrote)

Senator Rand Paul and William J Murray

Senator Rand Paul and William J Murray

This month I attended a small dinner with Senators Pat Toomey and Rand Paul. I supported neither man when they ran for the offices they now hold. I did not support Toomey because as head of the Club for Growth, he ran vicious ads against Mike Huckabee in the 2008 presidential primary. The ads were dishonest and were intended to stop a social conservative from winning in the primary. Instead of having Governor Huckabee as the Republican nominee, we wound up instead with a bitter old man who was out of touch with the people of the nation he wanted to lead. Senator Toomey is not a bad guy, but he is no social conservative. He is one of those who believes that every election can be won on the tax issues. I just don’t believe Republicans can win on lowering taxes alone, given that 47% of Americans pay no income taxes.

I did not attend the dinner because of the presence of Senator Toomey, although I wound up sitting next to him. There were only twelve people present including the two Senators, who each brought one staff person. I was one of eight seated at the table who were either advocates or lobbyists. One of those present represented one of the three largest tobacco companies in America, which makes sense since Rand Paul is from Kentucky which is a top tobacco producing state. The groups represented were diverse in interests.

The Truth about lobbying:  Outside the beltway, lobbying is a dirty word. In reality lobbying serves an important function. Various groups both left and right slam the idea of lobbying, and some would even like to outlaw the activity.  Without it, though, congressmen and Senators would be working in the dark.

How could a Senator decide what was best for his state if he were not allowed to talk to the ten largest employers in his state? Think about it. What if congressmen were not allowed to have conversations with the representatives of city or county governments or union leaders?

Lobbying is simply someone going to Congress and telling a congressman or Senator about the point of view or needs of a business or a certain interest group. The American Medical Association has a lobbyist and so does AARP. The Teamsters Union has an entire office building that is visible from the Capitol Building. The NRA and Right to Life have offices on Capitol Hill. Should the right of truckers to ask Congress for lower diesel fuel taxes be forbidden? Is it wrong for Baptist or Catholic groups to tell Senators that they don’t want abortions in hospitals operated by their denominations?

In reality without lobbyists, congressmen and Senators would be voting blindly on most bills, with no idea of the perspective of organizations and companies who would be affected by the new law in their state, either in a positive or negative way.  

Because I am not paid by a third party to present a position, I am not a lobbyist; I am an advocate. A lobbyist is someone who works on Capitol Hill who is paid by a third party, perhaps a business or even a rural county that cannot afford to have someone full time in Washington to represent them. Big companies, big unions and even large cities have their own offices here in Washington with their own employees to talk to congressmen and Senators about issues that affect them.

My purpose is different than most: Back to the dinner that I had with Senators Pat Toomey and Rand Paul. My purpose for being at the dinner that night was to talk to Senator Rand Paul about the situation of Christians in Iraq and Syria. I also wanted to thank Senator Paul personally for working to obtain the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini who is dying in an Iranian jail for the crime of presenting the Gospel truth to Muslims. I did exactly that and I believe my presentation had a dramatic effect on Senator Toomey, who stays away from virtually all religious issues.

When the subject of ObamaCare and its effect on small businessmen was brought up, I interjected the need for Republicans and economic conservatives to address the attack on religious freedom which that law represents.

I told Senator Paul that President Barack Obama believes that religious freedom and freedom of worship are the same thing — that allowing someone to worship in their church is religious freedom. I pointed out that there is “freedom of worship” in Iran, and that even there Christians can worship in a church building. Outside of the church, however, Christians in Iran cannot freely talk about Christ or distribute literature about their faith.

I told the Senators that ObamaCare legislation was saying the same thing to businessmen – “You can be a Christian in your church, but you may not practice your faith in your place of business. You must violate your religious principles if you are an employer.”

Then I made this statement: “Thomas Jefferson referred to religious freedom as the first freedom, because without it there is no freedom of speech, press or assembly. If the government can stop you from talking about your religion in public then the government can stop you from talking about anything. If the government can stop you from distributing literature about your religion then that same government can stop you from printing and distributing anything.”

When I was done, I noticed that all of the lobbyists in the room were sort of staring at me and some of their jaws had simply dropped. They had never heard this simple truth presented before.

I rarely attend the dinners or receptions that are intended for social conservatives. If Tony Perkins or Dr. Dobson will be present, I usually don’t go. Why? Well, when congressmen and Senators are in a room full of religious leaders, their aides give them a set of talking points for that room. They do the same if it is a “banking room” or an “oil room” or a “union room.”

I do my best to search out Senators and congressmen who publicly portray themselves as on the side of social conservatives at events that are not spiritaul. I want to see how these men talk and react when they are not in a room full of religious leaders. I learn a lot! For one thing I find out pretty quickly if they drink alcohol and if so how much. No alcohol is served when the meeting is with Dr. Dobson or Tony Perkins. I will leave that where it is.

I need your help to be able to continue to attend meetings like these and to support the kind of men and women who will truly represent our values on Capitol Hill. As 2013 closes, please support GING-PAC. Help me continue this vital work in 2014.

William J. Murray, Chairman
Government Is Not God – PAC
P.O. Box 77237, Washington, DC 20013

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