Local governments paying tax money to lobbyists to influence state lawmakers is so rampant that they now spend more on lobbying fees than do pharmaceutical companies, health care companies, and banks.
According to the San Bernadino Sun, government-on-government lobbying is the most prevalent form of lobbying in the California state Legislature. An estimated $45 million is spent annually on 120 elected state lawmakers and other bureaucrats and political appointees governing California. According to the Sun, the reason city officials and state agencies call on lobbyists to do their bidding for them rather than pick up the phone themselves is because they are so good at influencing the politicians.
“There are a lot of different voices up there trying to reach lawmakers,” said Bob Pacheco, a former Republican assemblyman from Diamond Bar. “Lobbyists are a great tool to get attention for a city.” Frequently, the lobbyists can go beyond just influencing the lawmakers and can capture the ears of potential donors. “Money does buy influence, absolutely,” Pacheco claims. “I don’t think anybody can deny that.”
Anthony Gonzalves, a lobbyist who represents more than 40 government and quasi-governmental agencies in Los Angeles County, admits that some are shy about using the term lobbyist and prefer to be called legislative advocates, “but I’m a lobbyist,” he insists. “I’m proud of what I do. You don’t make it 37 years in this business by burning people and being unethical.”
According to Gonzalves, term limits are the reason it is difficult for government agencies and local governments to build rapport with lawmakers. Notably, Ken Manning, a director with the San Gabriel Basin Water Quality Authority, spent $170,000 on lobbyists for lawmaker influence to help him clean up polluted ground water in the San Gabriel Valley. “It’s life,” he admitted. “Honestly, it’s difficult to build a relationship with a legislator.”