On-line, Searchable Database for Lobbyists

From Saturday’s Argus Leader:

S.D. looks to open doors on lobbying

South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant, who is the state’s official record keeper, says he’s already on the issue and hopes to create an online filing system for lobbyists and put the information in a searchable online database for the public.

and…

“Lobbying is a great way for legislators to become informed about issues, and they do rely on them quite a bit. It’s important to understand which interests are trying to influence the legislation,” Quist said.

There alot of bills that get put in the hopper every year, I can see how lobbying can help legislators understand who will benfit or suffer from any bill.

This on-line, searchable database to be open to the public can only help the process.  It is always good to know who supports what.

There is this near the end of the article

(Lawyer Dick) Gregorson likes the idea of online information for the public and that the database will save time for the Secretary of State’s office. He is more concerned that the state is not outlawing political contributions from lobbyists to legislators.

What contributions are we talking about here?  Gifts to legislators while the legilature is in session or even out of session?  Campaign contributions?  Hosting a dinner during the legislative session?

I have to wonder how much power do lobbyists yeild in the legislture, compare to the average citizen or even a elected legislator.

10 Replies to “On-line, Searchable Database for Lobbyists”

  1. caheidelberger

    Looking, hoping… come on, Gant! Tell Powers to bone up on his SQL and build these storied databases already! And call us when you have an actual product. (I recommend recruiting the South Dakota blogosphere to serve as beta testers!)

    MC, I think the answers to your closing questions are obvious. If lobbyists didn’t have more influence than the regular citizen, special interests wouldn’t pay them the big bucks to camp out in Pierre all session long.

    1. MC Post author

      I did notice that the lobbyists do were some very nice suits while I was there.

  2. Anonymous

    Do you think any of this silliness will make any difference? If somebody wants this information they can get it now. This blog is starting to really reach for something to talk about.

  3. Truthinator

    MC, MANY lobbyists in South Dakota are entrenched political power sources who not only have more power than average citizens, but who have more power than legislators! I am kind of surprised that you would even put that last statement out there.

    It is a bit naive to think that the lobbyists work only during the legislative session. The good ones are out there pressing their clients’ interests every single day. Doing favors. Keeping secrets. Greasing wheels.

    Our lobbying system in South Dakota, combined with entrenched, fall-the-leader, largely one-party legislative body makes our state one of the prime states in the union to float new trial legislation. That alone speaks volumes about how much power some of the top-tier lobbyists possess.

    South Dakota sure is a good state in which to be a “Good Ole Boy.”

  4. CaveMan

    The one place the cerebrally overqualified and underpaid lobbyists cannot go without a nice black or white “Legislator” lapel on their shoulder is the GOP Caucus.

    Ever wonder why that is?

    There is a reason……………