Thursday, November 7, 2013

How Many Members Do You Represent

Over the last 30 years of visiting Congressional offices in DC, I can’t really estimate how many times the congressman (or Hill staffer) has probed: “So, how many members does your association represent?” (Or some variation of wanting to know how much “clout” we have.)

The other question is often, “How big is your PAC (political action committee)?” 

Which reminds me of a real story ...

A Hill staffer called and told me his boss (a Congressman) was going to be visiting St. Louis and wondered if he could stop by our association’s office. 

After checking with some of our leaders, I said yes. 

Then, he said, “We’d like a PAC contribution for the visit.”

I checked with our PAC manager who said, “Well, he’s not that important to us but we could probably given him $150.”

When I told the Hill staffer $150, he responded, “But my boss never goes without a $500 donation!”

(To myself, I thought, "Wait a minute, you invited yourself to come to our office!")

I responded, “We only have $150.”

He said, “Well okay. By the way, the Congressman’s wife is coming, could someone show her around and perhaps take her shopping and to lunch?”

That is one specific example of lobbying at work.

The other is the often asked question, “How many members (or people) do you represent?” 

This answer was a bit more dicey! Do you respond with the number of dues paying members in your association? Or, do you give them the number of people within your industry including those who are not members?

So, when you are lobbying and get this question, how do you answer?

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