corporate lobbying

Welcome To 'Lobbyhood' Where Lobbyists Make Up One-Third Of This Cute Olympia Neighborhood

Apr 15, 2018
Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times

A turreted brick home known as The Castle. A tan bungalow. An 111-year-old corner house with a covered porch.

Just south of the state Capitol building you’ll find a neighborhood dotted with quaint, historic houses. But you won’t find families with children in many of them.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Lobbyists are paid to try to influence legislation. One way they build relationships with lawmakers is by hosting political fundraisers. And that’s happening a lot this election season with lobbyists for business, labor and other interests.

State Senator Doug Ericksen / Washington Legislature

Washington state lawmakers are barred from accepting gifts intended to influence their vote. But there’s an exception to that rule. Members of the legislature are allowed to accept free food and drinks if it’s related to their official duties, but only on an “infrequent” basis.

However, a public radio investigation, done in cooperation with the Associated Press, reveals that dozens of state legislators frequently accept meals from lobbyists. And many of them do so even while collecting taxpayer-funded per diem payments.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

In the first three months of this year, lobbyists in Washington state spent more than $200,000 on entertainment. Much of that money was spent to wine and dine state lawmakers during the just-concluded 105-day session. But what are lobbyists and their clients getting in exchange for picking up the tab?

After the legislative day ends up at the Capitol, it’s pretty common for some of the players to decamp. They go to one of a handful of usually higher-end Olympia establishments. This is where – over a meal, perhaps a bottle of Washington wine – the work continues.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

OLYMPIA, Wash. – In the world of state legislatures, there’s a powerful breed of players who normally shun the spotlight. They prefer to work behind the scenes to influence policy outcomes. We’re talking about business lobbyists. Inside this often hidden world, you’ll meet two of the most successful corporate contract lobbyists in the Washington state capitol. And learn some of their tricks of the trade.