This often gives rise to accusations of buying influence and ethics violations. In response, several states now require lobbyists to wear badges identifying themselves as lobbyists, but some are equating this to Nazi-era arm bands. A ridiculous comparison? Find out whether your state requires lobbyists to wear badges.
Lobbyist resistance to badges
When the Los Angeles City Hall brought up the possibility of forcing lobbyists to wear badges, lobbyist Harvey Englander said that he refused to be treated like a Jew by the Nazis. Others weren’t quite so dramatic, saying it was like a scarlet letter. In any event, the purported reason for the badges was so that law makers could know whether they were speaking to, or hearing, a private citizen or a paid lobbyist. Here’s a video showing a city counsel hearing in Los Angeles where a lobbyist (the man) and non-lobbyist (the woman) take turns speaking:
State level badge requirements
According to the national conference of state legislatures, as of 2008, there are laws at the state level requiring lobbyists to wear badges in Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and South Dakota. Some other states, like Illinois and Idaho, encourage lobbyist to wear badges, but don’t require it, while other states have no requirement whatsoever.
Are required badges a good thing?
So are the states requiring lobbyists to wear a badge doing the right thing? Or are they trying to demean lobbyists? Reasonable people can disagree, but if there’s nothing bad about being a lobbyist, one has to wonder why a lobbyist would mind being identified as one.
One thing is for certain, though– this isn’t the Holocaust.