Grant’s Rants: Lobbyists and the Incestuous Overlap of Government

statue in front of a man


Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed official guest host Grant Henry in the studio for another edition of Grant’s Rants.


Some say the only thing worse than a lawyer is a lobbyist. But I think I know what can top it: a taxpayer-funded lobbyist. You heard me right. I said your tax dollars are used to fund lobbying in the great state of Tennessee. Yes, lobby.

Ladies and gentlemen, this incestuous overlap of government hiring people to influence itself is a very real thing. Dozens and dozens of people paid by you and I are directly lobbying your legislators every day to make sure the governmental departments have a hand in our bills.

These department lobbyists are some of the most powerful people in the building. They heavily influence the outcome of legislation and they are not elected to represent the will of the people. Now, let’s say that you have a bill that you really like.

You and the bill sponsor may have worked with several organizations for a long time to make sure that the language of that bill is perfect. Well, maybe someone in the Department of Safety really doesn’t like that bill.

So they just send down their lobbyists to meet with all the legislators, give testimony, and committee to work against the bill that you hope might pass. And more often than not, they win. Look, regardless of whether you agree with this position of the particular governmental department or not, doesn’t even matter.

The point is that we are paying the salary of these people, and they are not elected to represent any of us. I get it, okay? I’m a lobbyist. I know this rant might sound slightly hypocritical coming from me, but the main difference here is that you all don’t pay my salary.

The company called Free Tennessee pays my salary. Let me put it this way. Someone that is not a representative of the people is attempting to have far more influence over your representative than you do. Now, that fact by itself is not crazy.

It’s not crazy to believe that. Corporate lobbyists are up there every day trying to do that very thing. But now consider that you are paying for it, literally. Sometimes twice. Often a department lobbyist is there to advocate for a bill that will require more government spending in their department or to fight against a bill that might cut funding for their department.

So we’re paying for their salary on the front end, and we’re paying on the back end by way of increased government spending. So if you thought you didn’t like lobbyists before, how do you feel now, knowing that you’re paying for the privilege two different times? But please don’t take my word for it. Listen to Senator Kerry Roberts address two of these department lobbyists just last week in committee.

(Senator Kerry Roberts clip plays)

We are tired of taxpayer-funded lobbyists coming into our offices and trying to tell us what to do. No one elected you to be a legislator.

I’m tired of having people come in here from a department, a board of commission, or whatever and lobby paid for by taxpayer dollars. State employees come here and lobby against what the people elected us to do.


So, ladies and gentlemen, if you want to know what is being done about this problem in Tennessee, I would urge you all to contact your state House members and senators and ask them to support House Bill 2485 and Senate bill 2687.

These bills are attempting to add some transparency to how our tax dollars are spent on this kind of lobbying. Without transparency, there can be no clarity on this issue.

And without clarity, we will never know how much of a problem Tennessee has with separation of powers. Help us return to the kind of government our founders intended – one where each branch of government has a proper respect for checks and balances to ensure liberty and magnify the people’s voice.

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Lobbyist Idolatry” by Jeremiah Roth CC BY-SA 2.0.

















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2 Thoughts to “Grant’s Rants: Lobbyists and the Incestuous Overlap of Government”

  1. […] Lobbyists and the Incestuous Overlap of Government […]

  2. Randy

    My first thought was the Knox County School District. My second thought was how government sausage is made. Special interest funds campaigns and then tell the people they believe they got elected what to do. The media gladly helps perpetuate the cycle and the the public’s interest is rarely served. The only way to fix this is not through more government regulation but more voter participation. We have a representative form of government that only works for those who vote. Few people vote and far to few know who to vote for or why, “it matters who governs”.