The Lobbyists' Ability To Control The Message

from the we-say-what-they-want dept

It certainly won't come as much of a surprise to readers around here that lobbyists from Roche/Genentech were able to get 42 different members of Congress to include text they had written into the Congressional Record. For way too long, we've seen how much politicians seem to rely on lobbyists to write the legislation, create the talking points and (at times) even deferring questions to the lobbyists themselves. Is it any wonder that lobbyists have become the new celebrities?

But what is rather stunning about the NY Times story on how Genentech's talking points were mentioned (with multiple Congressional reps using the exact same language) is how unconcerned everyone is about it. The lobbyists wrote up talking points for both sides of the aisle. It wasn't about being in support or against the current healthcare bill, but just to get these Congressional Reps "on the record" in supporting key concepts, so that those same lobbyists can go back and point to such "bipartisan" support in the future, even if the Congressional reps themselves don't even know what they're talking about.

The NY Times talked to a bunch of Congressional offices about this, and they all seem to admit freely that the language came from Genentech lobbyists, and they incorporated it directly (sometimes with a few minor changes) into the remarks that get put into the Congressional record. This isn't the fault of Genentech or its lobbyists -- who, of course, are going to push for such things. The really damning part is that all of these Congressional reps don't seem to think there's any problem at all with simply taking text directly from a company and putting it into their own remarks as if they agree on the concept, when they don't even seem to understand what they're saying half of the time. Often these sorts of Congressional remarks are later used to show "Congress' intent" in doing certain things. But, perhaps they should just start being upfront and honest about the fact that these remarks are "the industry's intent" and simply signing them with the companies that actually wrote the language (or at least tagging the remarks with the name of the company/industry group that wrote it).

Filed Under: congress, health care, lobbyists
Companies: genentech, roche

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. icon
    deadzone (profile), 20 Nov 2009 @ 6:29am


    Our system is broken. I say scrap it and start over again. We can start with Term Limits and doing away completely with Lobbyists.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.