Addressed to "friends and fellow lobbyists," the covering letter begins, "After several years working on the Hill and seven more as a lobbyist, I have come to the conclusion that the political system has evolved in such a way that immediate changes are needed. As you all surely agree, the 'right to petition our representatives in government' is much more complex than it was a decade ago."
What follows is a pitch for a novel piece of legislation drafted to address the frustrations of the hundreds of Washington lobbyists who make much of their living on Capitol Hill.
The author of the letter -- and of the "Lobbyists' Deficit and Regulatory Reduction Act of 1986" that accompanies it -- is Scott Sklar, director of Government Relations for Solar Energy Industries Association. Sklar, who says he is "definitely not the highest paid lobbyist in town," assured a caller that he wrote the letter with his tongue firmly in his cheek "to show the human side" of lobbying.
"Everybody thinks lobbying is high-chic, glamorous. But most of it is waiting around. You know, it's funny, but after lobbying on this tax bill, you see hundreds of lobbyists in this town, and when you all sit together . . . long hours of sitting in the hallways waiting for hearings to be scheduled, or markups, you sort of become giddy. I wrote down all the different comments I heard." Then he incorporated the most often-heard complaints in his proposal, which he mailed to 80 fellow lobbyists and circulated to some members of congress.
Playful though his letter might be, Sklar is confident that he can persuade a member of Congress to introduce the bill. "Oh, sure," he said, "We'll get somebody."
One of the somebodies he mentioned as a candidate was Rep. Andrew Jacobs Jr. (D-Ind.), whose "levity factor" he describes as "high." But Jacobs aide David Wildes called that suggestion "a slight exaggeration. Perhaps someone else would like to kick it around a little bit," he said. "We just took it as a joke, expressing some of the frustrations lobbyists feel. I think Mr. Jacobs got a laugh out of it."