Corporations and Foreign Nations Pivot to Lobby Biden
The morning after Election Day, as votes were still being counted, diplomats from more than 20 foreign governments logged into a videoconference to hear Joe Lockhart, a veteran Democratic operative, provide what his consulting firm’s invitation described as “insider tips on how to make YOUR agenda happen in the aftermath of an election.”
Over the next few days, as Joe Biden accumulated the votes necessary to become the next president, representatives from countries and companies around the world began scrambling to secure representation from well-connected Democrats like Lockhart.
Manny Ortiz, a Democratic lobbyist with ties to the party’s congressional leaders, said he received a string of inquiries from representatives for foreign governments — including Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — that had previously focused on strengthening ties to President Donald Trump.
And Heather Podesta, a leading Democratic lobbyist, said her firm recently signed a slew of new clients from the energy, consumer goods, technology and defense industries that were preparing for the expected Biden win.
While Biden has taken steps to demonstrate his distance from lobbyists, his presidency is being welcomed in Washington’s influence industry.
Lobbyists and other advisers who help clients navigate Washington are quietly highlighting ties to Biden and his team in pitches to prospective clients, while firms and interest groups that lack such ties are scrambling to secure them. Such connections are plentiful because aides and colleagues of Biden’s have been cycling between government and the influence industry going back to his 36 years representing Delaware in the Senate and his eight years as vice president.
It is a far cry from four years ago, when Trump swept into town with few connections to established gatekeepers and lobbyists.
Instead of fulfilling his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” of special interests, Trump empowered a powerful, but relatively small, new class of lobbyists with connections to him or his inner circle. They reaped tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees from companies, interest groups and foreign governments seeking to navigate an administration that revolved around the whims of one man, while defying established norms about policymaking and governance.
文／Kenneth P. Vogel and Eric Lipton 陳韋廷／譯、樂慧生／核稿
遊說是美國政治文化重要現象，也是規模數十億美元的行業，目的在於影響法令或政策制定，文中以influence industry形容相當貼切，業者稱為lobbyist，即「說客、遊說者」，此字從表示「大廳」的名詞lobby衍生而出，因這些人常到國會大廳找機會接觸議員並影響其決定。遊說在美並不違法且受憲法保障。Influence peddling（關說）則屬非法。