Los Angeles Times
Re: “Lobbyist’s Guerrilla Tactics Get Attention,” July 7: Isn’t it time that consumers got as angry as Jamie Court? Isn’t it time that we citizens held our politicians accountable for selling out our interests to corporate high bidders?
Court “sees his role as educating voters about the backroom workings of Sacramento and the degree to which corporations and willing legislators foil the public interest.” The idea is “to build a case through direct public appeals.” Well, this resonates with me. Court wants us to know who has his or her hand out to the banking, insurance and corporate lobbyists who woo our representatives in an appropriate and courtly manner, quietly slipping the checks into the coffers
of our money-hungry politicians who sell their constituents to these high bidders. These contributions do not represent free speech. Money paid for such influence is, and for millenniums has been, rightfully called bribery and graft. It’s a way that we have permitted our politicians to conduct their business, and now it’s time for us to get angry.
Your article says, “For lobbyists in this state capital, the rules are pretty straightforward: befriend legislators; be discreet; don’t embarrass the people whose vote you may need another day.” Right! Big businesses are discreet, all right; they never tell. Why did the legislators get so angry at Court? Everyone’s privacy is at stake here, and they are not taking the action needed to
protect it. So, it seems they are not bothered by people’s Social Security numbers and other information being made available. Or are they? We need advocates like the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, or FTCR, that don’t compromise.
The FTCR has pioneered some of the nation’s most important and innovative consumer protections with tactics such as Court’s. It has put into place some of the nation’s strongest insurance reforms, HMO reforms and conflict-of-interest laws in five California cities. Its members use the tactics they can to be effective. They don’t have the money to buy the influence that some others do. At least the FTCR is working to protect consumers. I wish I could say the same
for Sacramento lawmakers.
What we need are more Jamie Courts, not fewer. Among the corporations, lobbyists and many politicians, the appropriate label is, as his chalkboard illustrates, “Greed.” I am up to here with do-nothing lawmakers, swayed by corporate-sponsored lobbyists whose influence often determines the bills introduced in the national and state legislatures. Representative government is fast giving way to a system of corporate- and lobbyist-ruled government in which ordinary citizens have little, if any, input. Californians possess the power to take back their government, but to do so we need to unite against these power-hungry entities. According to Harvey Rosenfield, lawmakers are terrified of Court’s relentlessness. Sounds to me as though it will take these kinds of tactics to return California’s representative government to the people.
In a state and national climate that is dominated by the mammon of corporate malfeasance and influence-peddling at its most crass, The Times decides to castigate the one muckraker voice that the people have and so desperately need, Court and the FTCR. Let us continue to sing the song that praises the “crazed” for all their advocacy in trying to change the state and national dialogue for the better. And let us not forget that the Babel of din being sold by the corporations and their political scions is a lot more cacophonous than the sterling and defining clarity of the resonance being produced by Court.
Since when is the truth considered a guerrilla tactic? I admire Court and am inspired that he’s willing to stand up to hypocritical legislators who continually pander to corporations instead of representing their constituents. Sacramento is a cesspool of smarmy lobbyists and smarmier legislators. How refreshing that someone like Court can shamelessly reveal to the rest of us the
blatant pay-to-play dynamics in the Capitol.