, Salem, MA


March 11, 2014

Watson: Big money can buy a democracy


Do you hate the unions? Hate corporate “personhood”? Lobbyists and politicians love it when we citizens cherry-pick the lobby we dislike most and argue about which special interest is too powerful. The truth is that we and democracy would be better served to unite and demand an end to the revolving door between politicians and lobbying, and an end to outrageous lobbyist spending. Remember, a lobbyist’s loyalty is first to his client, who is paying him millions to deliver.

Onetime public officials should be prohibited for life from all lobbying capacities. And corporations, unions, trade groups, PACs, 501 (c)(4)s, 527s, and every other advocacy group should be subject to severe spending caps (and full, real-time disclosure) on both lobbying efforts and political contributions.

Today, literally billions are spent on lobbying, on past and present politicians, and on influencing legislation and regulation. In a democracy, this is trouble. Because money buys a democracy. Money buys power. And power buys results.

Brian T. Watson is a Salem News columnist. Contact him at

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