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Why Do Lobbyists Have the Veto?

Video: Miller-McCune hosts a panel at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., asking, "Why Do Lobbyists Have the Veto?"

“Your work just doesn’t matter at all.” That was how lobbyist Craig Holman lightheartedly described his invitation to speak on a Miller-McCune-sponsored panel looking at how effective lobbying really is in Washington, D.C. The panel, which convened Thursday morning, included academics studying the issue from "30,000 feet" and lobbyists who get their hands dirty every day in the field.

The discussion centered on one of the most in-depth political science studies ever conducted on the day-to-day workings of Washington — the prize-winning book Lobbying and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses and Why.That volume demonstrates that the real outcome of most lobbying — in fact, its greatest success — is the achievement of nothing.

Sixty percent of the time, the status quo prevails, as we pointed out in Miller-McCune magazine’s "K Street and the Status Quo." The side with more money wins only half the time. The president has more clout than an army of lobbyists.

Such was the jumping-off point Thursday for the first-ever Miller-McCune Live! event, held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C, before an overflow crowd of academics, policymakers, journalists and, umm, lobbyists.

Click below to watch the debate, moderated by Miller-McCune Editor-in-Chief John Mecklin and panelists Lobbying and Policy Change co-author Frank R. Baumgartner, Public Citizen's Craig Holman and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Rolf Lundberg Jr. (Full bios of the panelists appear below.)

"Why Do Lobbyists Have the Veto?" from Miller-McCune on Vimeo.

Frank R. Baumgartner is a political scientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A native Detroiter, he attended Detroit's Cass Technical High School and then received all his academic degrees at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He has taught at the University of Iowa (1986-87), Texas A&M University (1987-98) and Penn State University (1998-2009) where he served as department head (1999-2004), distinguished professor (2005-07) and then was the first holder of the Bruce R. Miller and Dean D. LaVigne Professorship (2007-09). He has written or contributed to numerous books, including 2008's The Decline of the Death Penalty and the Discovery of Innocence. His book Lobbying and Policy Change, published in 2009, won the Leon D. Epstein Outstanding Book Award from the American Political Science Association Section on Political Organizations and Parties this year.


Craig Holman is government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. He serves as the organization's Capitol Hill lobbyist on campaign finance and governmental ethics. Previously, Holman was senior policy analyst at the Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law. Dr. Holman worked closely with reform organizations and the Democratic congressional caucus of the 110th Congress in drafting and promoting the "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act," the new federal lobbying and ethics reform legislation signed into law on Sept. 14, 2007. As a consequence of this legislation, Holman is also working with European nongovernmental organizations and members of the European Commission and Parliament in developing a lobbyist registration system for the European Union.


Rolf Lundberg Jr. is senior vice president for Congressional and Public Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which includes a team of 15 lobbyists and eight regional offices charged with providing membership services and grassroots lobbying. Before joining the Chamber in November 2001, Lundberg was vice president and assistant general counsel for government and international relations at Marriott International, Inc. From 1993 through 1997, he served as legal counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole and his successor, Senate Republican Leader Trent Lott.