April 12, 2012

Lobbying Group For Big Business Boasts Of 100 Meetings A Year With Congress — How Much Access Do You Have?

Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) speaks before Business Roundtable lobbyists
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) speaks before Business Roundtable lobbyists
Multinational corporations have many options for influencing legislation in their favor, one of which is the Business Roundtable, a trade association with over a $24 million dollar advocacy budget. The Roundtable helps member companies like J.P. Morgan, Wal-Mart, and WellPoint ensure that Washington is making policy that benefits their bottom line.

The group is gearing up for an aggressive effort to slash the corporate tax rate and reduce new regulations put in place to prevent another financial crisis (like the Volcker Rule). Politico’s Anna Palmer recently sat down with John Engler, chief lobbyist for the Business Roundtable, to hear about his agenda this year. Engler bragged about increasing the size of his organization, the different “arrows in the quiver” for attacking opponents, and even his regular meetings with the Blue Dog Caucus (a pro-big business set of Democratic lawmakers that includes congressmen like Tim Holden and Mike Ross).

None of this is particularly surprising — but Republic Report did take note of the sheer level of access Engler has with Congress:

The trade association’s headquarters is now located at 300 New Jersey Ave., NW, just steps from the Capitol. The move was strategic — it allows the group to better facilitate its nearly 100 meetings with members of Congress and staff each year, according to Engler. […] Still, the trade association has worked under his leadership to maintain a good working relationship with congressional leaders and business outreach staff on both the Republican and Democratic side. At quarterly member meetings, it has brought in congressional leaders and discrete groups like the business-friendly Blue Dog Coalition to sit with member CEOs.

One hundred meetings a year? And this is just through the Business Roundtable. Corporations also have specialty trade associations (like TechNet & AHIP), other big business lobbying fronts (like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), high-dollar fundraisers, private lobbying firms, and corporate-funded think tanks to facilitate meetings with lawmakers.

How much access do regular Americans have?