WSJ Publishes Joel Jankowsky Op-Ed on Lobbying, the First Amendment and Campaign Rhetoric

“Candidates and Their Lobbyist Piñatas,” an opinion piece by Akin Gump senior partner Joel Jankowsky, has been published by The Wall Street Journal.

The article notes that, in this primary season, candidates from both parties are launching rhetorical attacks on lobbyists as part of their campaign speeches. This follows President Obama’s own “frequent blasts at Washington lobbying.”

Jankowsky writes, however, that “lobbyists play a vital role in democracy…provid[ing] a channel through which citizens, businesses, nonprofits and organizations of all kinds can address government.” He adds that the right to lobby is enshrined in the First Amendment’s guarantee of people’s right to petition the government for redress of their grievances.

He writes that stigmatizing lobbying serves only to limit some lobbyists’ activities so that they do not need to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, which “promotes opaqueness instead of openness.”

Jankowsky also points out that candidates who “rail against lobbying and so-called special interests don’t hesitate to establish—in addition to their political-action committees and super PACs—501(c)(4) nonprofit “social welfare groups,” which engage in a variety of political activities.” He notes that contributions to the 501(c)(4) groups are unlimited and anonymous and that it is “a bit hypocritical to wink at the influence of these groups while decrying lobbyists, who are among the most-scrutinized and well-documented participant