April 4, 2012

New Jersey’s ‘Top Lobbyist’ On Why He Worked For Big Tobacco: ‘Those Are The People That Pay’

Bob Byrd is New Jersey’s “top lobbyist,” according to Content Delaware’s John Taylor, which recently interviewed Byrd for its conversational series. Byrd is the CEO of The Byrd Group, a lobbying firm that has worked for the banking industry and the education privatization movement, among other interests.

At one point, Taylor pointed out many of Byrd’s various clients, including the tobacco and alcohol industries. Byrd explained that he decided a long time ago that he would work for the “people who pay” and that he wouldn’t be where he is today if he wasn’t able to pass through the Revolving Door as a former lawmaker (he was a Majority Whip):

TAYLOR: You don’t shy away from controversy. You represented the gaming industry, the tobacco industry, the, some of the alcoholic beverage industry.

BYRD: If it’s a good idea, motherhood, or Apple Pie, I’m probably opposed!

TAYLOR: (laughs) There’s social reformers and religious folks who probably think you’re evil for doing that. How do you respond to that?

BYRD:  When I first decided to do this years ago, one of the things I did is I realized that, you know, you’ve gotta go, if you’re going to do this, you have to go where the people are who are going to pay you. […] There’s a lot of other ways to say it, but that’s being real upfront about it.

TAYLOR: How do you stay so active in Democratic politics and still get along, you know, successfully with Republicans in Dover?

BYRD: You know, I’ve always said  everything I am in this business and all of my success is a result of me getting elected to the legislature as a Democrat in 1974.

Watch the segment:


When it comes to lobbying by special interests, ideology is not the issue of contention. As Byrd shows, it’s all about the money.

  • Indeed, it’s all about the money. I would take that statement even farther to include more than just lobbyists. Unfortunately the incentives we have established for the political system in general drive this natural human phenomenon of greed.

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