When you’re a lobbyist, you’ve got to find all sorts of ways to influence Congress. Last Thursday, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) found a quirky way to lobby about the benefits of chlorine — hold an ice cream social in the Rayburn House Office Building by the U.S. Capitol. We were there.
Because Congress was officially in recess last week, no Members of Congress attended, but dozens of happy staffers waltzed in for the chance to nab some sweet treats and be informally lobbied by the ACC staff. We talked to one ACC staffer, Mary Ostrowski, about what she hoped to get out of the event. She explained that ACC is trying to advance legislation that promotes the use of bleach as a disinfectant.
“I was thinking, if you really wanted to get something related to chlorine, you should’ve gone with a pool party!” I joked to her. “Would you really prefer that to ice cream?” she responded. “Both!” said my colleague Suzanne. “They go well together in the summertime,” I noted.
“How do you think events like this help get your message across to federal legislators?” I asked her.
“Well, these are the policymakers, the decisionmakers and hopefully people will be picking up some of the materials, and maybe in conversations realize that, ‘Oh yeah, I remember that’s important for norovirus and chlorine does a little bit more than just clean up water for drinking, so that’s really our goal is to raise awareness, maybe have our organization as a resource incase there are any questions that lawmakers might have,” she responded.
Watch our conversation:
I noted that the ice cream had run out before we got there. “It’s unfortunate about the ice cream,” I joked. “We can get some chocolate syrup. It might not win our total votes. It might win half a vote if I was a congressman. The ice cream would take me all the way, though.” “Oh, I get you,” Ostrowski laughed back.
Although the event was light-hearted and, frankly, fun, there’s no doubt that these sorts of gatherings are a small way that industries get influence our Members of Congress and their staffs. If only they can make sure the ice cream is well-stocked.
Filed under: Lobbying