Lobbyists aim to upgrade image with code of ethics

WASHINGTON, DC: The American League of Lobbyists (ALL), which represents a vocation not generally known for its ethical fortitude, is attempting to upgrade the image of the profession by adopting a stronger code of ethics.

WASHINGTON, DC: The American League of Lobbyists (ALL), which represents a vocation not generally known for its ethical fortitude, is attempting to upgrade the image of the profession by adopting a stronger code of ethics.

WASHINGTON, DC: The American League of Lobbyists (ALL), which

represents a vocation not generally known for its ethical fortitude, is

attempting to upgrade the image of the profession by adopting a stronger

code of ethics.



Wright Andrews, a former ALL president who oversaw the drafting of the

new code, contended last week that a large percentage of the barbs

lobbed at lobbyists are unwarranted and unfair. He conceded, however,

that part of the fault lies with the lobbying industry itself, which has

done little to promote its positive points.



’The profession has not done a good job of speaking up for itself,’ he

said, pointing to the potshots regularly taken at the profession by

members of the media as well as by politicians themselves.



The code, hyped at a recent press conference, takes a tough stance on

conflicts of interest and calls for all agreements to be put in

writing.



However, at this point there is no mechanism to ensure the guidelines

are followed. Still, Andrews views the code as a ’good first step’

towards upgrading the image of lobbyists, adding that a strong ethics

code is necessary if the industry is ever to achieve a professional

status on par with law or medicine.



However, it is questionable whether the ALL is even in a position to

effect meaningful change. Though its 800-strong membership is comprised

largely of the profession’s senior-most practitioners, there are tens of

thousands of lobbyists in Washington, DC (for groups that lobby the

Senate, 21,000 are registered), meaning that the ALL only speaks for a

small and select percentage of the industry.



Andrews believes the high-profile ethics effort will attract new

members.



He is also reaching out to organizations such as the American Society of

Association Executives and Women in Government Relations, and is hoping

that they will follow the ALL’s lead and adopt similar ethical

guidelines.



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