NPR's Planet Money segment carried a recent piece focusing on how fundraising affects access to Members of Congress. Money is a factor in the political world of Washington, D.C., but don't underestimate the old-fashioned values of shoe leather and a good idea.
Planet Money reporters interviewed former lobbyist Jimmy Williams who recalled an incident where a congressman questioned why he should me with Williams or his principals after they had failed to respond to his campaign contribution solicitation.
Working Capitol Hill may not be that politically raw all the time, but money does talk in the halls of Congress, just as it does anywhere else.
If you don't have lots of loot, your best options are hard work and clear thinking.
Most federal lobbying is conducted with fact sheets and field trips, not briefcases full of cash.
Good lobbyists work with their clients, which can rang from big corporations to local cities and towns, to sharpen their agendas, making sure their asks are reasonable and fit the times.
For example, you can save the plane fare to Washington, D.C. to plead for an appropriations earmark. They are so last Congress.
However, Congress and federal agencies are still handing out cash to worthy recipients. It just takes different skills to make the case, as well as more and different people to tell about the project.
It may make for good politics to sit around a coffee table and gripe about federal government clumsiness and influence-peddling lobbyists. But if you have a problem with a potential federal solution, the better approach is to find someone who can guide your thought process and steer your relationship-building.
Good ideas and hard work can get the job done in the city many call Big Money.