Skip to main content

"A deficit of trust": lobbyists and Obama

I had a cup of tea with a colleague this afternoon as we got to grips with a substantial questionnaire. In a casual moment he asked if I had listened to the highlights of President Obama's first State of the Union address on the BBC. He thought that I would be interested in Obama's comments on lobbyists in Washington (see earlier comments).

So I sat down with the BBC transcript and here is the relevant section (45 minutes into the speech):
Let's meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Let's try common sense. A novel concept.


To do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust - deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue - to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; to give our people the government they deserve.

That's what I came to Washington to do. That's why - for the first time in history - my administration posts on our White House visitors online. That's why we've excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs, or seats on federal boards and commissions.
But we can't stop there. It's time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or with Congress. It's time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office.



Bookmark and Share so Your Real Friends Know that You Know

Comments

David-

If you are so worried about lobbying in the US, perhaps you could ask the AIA, CAARI, etc. to disclose all their contacts with government officials on behalf of the cultural affairs establishments of Cyprus, Egypt, Italy, Iraq, Iran, etc. i.e., the countries in which they or their colleagues excavate.

I would also suggest you investigate the amounts archaeological lobbyists give to various political candidates. I was a bit surprised myself on some of the amounts.

Peter Tompa
Who would be the individual that "AIA, CAARI, etc." are paying c. $20,000 in a single year to lobby and influence lawmakers on their behalf? Is there such a person?

We know who the IAPN and PNG pay.
Nathan- You and I both know these efforts are in effect underwritten by the Universities that employ the archaeological lobbyists and who give them substantial freedom to pursue their "research."

PS You may think $20,000 per year is a lot of money for lobbying, but many lobbyists charge that amount per month, not per year.

I can also certainly say that most of the lobbying done on behalf of numismatic and antiquities dealer groups is done on either a voluntarily basis or at a substantially reduced rate.

Peter Tompa
David Gill said…
Peter
Would you care to name the 'archaeological lobbyists'? Or do you mean archaeologists, or those with an interest in archaeological matters, who choose to donate money to political parties?
Best wishes
David
Is it then suggested that research on the illicit trade in antiquities is invalid? Is it not damaging to the very foundations of archaeology and the writing of history?

What about research on climate change or zoologists who study damaging wildlife trafficking? Is their research on these subjects invalid? Do these things not damage their disciplines or humanity as a whole?

I expect if I was a shady importer of songbirds, I might try to make the argument that this research is invalid and that they should not be allowed to write letters or travel at their own expense to talk to their congressmen.
David and Nathan-

I have certainly been at meetings in Congress where Prof. Patty Gerstenblith and Ellen Herscher have identified themselves as representing the AIA. I considered it lobbying and I hope they did so too.

I don't think there is anything wrong with that and in fact the right to petition the government is enshrined in the US Constitution.

There is, however, in my opinion a loophole in the law that forces individuals whose firms receive direct payments to register and report, but which does not require others associated with groups with direct financial or professional interests at stake to do so.

Perhaps in any subsequent reform legislation this loophole will be addressed.

Best,

Peter Tompa
David Gill said…
Dear Peter
I hope we both believe (passionately!) in the values of a modern democracy. So those in government (voted there by us) need to listen to those of us who have expertise in a particular field.
You are, I feel, being more than unfair to Patty Gerstenblith and Ellen Herscher. Are they paid lobbyists? No.
Are you paid by a Brussels-based international organisation to lobby on behalf if its members?
Best wishes
David

Popular posts from this blog

Marble bull's head from the temple of Eshmun

Excavations at the temple of Eshmun in Lebanon recovered a marble bull's head. It is now suggested that it was this head, apparently first published in 1967, that was placed on loan to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Tom Mashberg, "Met Museum Turns Over Another Relic With Disputed Past to Prosecutors", New York Times August 1, 2017 ). The head is reported to have been handed over to the Manhattan district attorney after a request was received from the Lebanese authorities.

It is suggested that the head may have been looted from an archaeological storage area at Byblos in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war. Mashberg has rehearsed the recent collecting history:
The owners of the bull’s head, Lynda and William Beierwaltes of Colorado, say they have clear title to the item and have sued Manhattan prosecutors for its return.  The Beierwaltes bought the head from a dealer in London in 1996 for more than $1 million and then sold it to another collector, Michael …

Sardinian warrior from "old Swiss collection"

One of the Sardinian bronzes of a warrior was seized from an as yet unnamed Manahattan gallery. It appears to be the one that passed through the Royal-Athena Gallery: Art of the Ancient World 23 (2012) no. 71. The collecting history for that warrior suggests that it was acquired in 1990 from a private collection in Geneva.

Other clues suggested that the warrior has resided in a New York private collection.

The identity of the private collection in Geneva will no doubt be telling.

The warrior also features in this news story: Jennifer Peltz, "Looted statues, pottery returned to Italy after probe in NYC", ABC News May 25 2017.

Mithras relief from Tor Cervara

A fragmentary relief of Mithras was discovered in 1964 at Tor Cervara on the outskirts of Rome. It was acquired by the Museo Nazionale Romano.

A further fragment of the relief was acquired by the Badisches Landesmueum in Kalrsruhe in 1976. The source was an unstated Swiss dealer. This fragment has been reunited with the rest of the relief [press release].

Today a further fragment of the relief was reunited with the other pieces. This had been recovered during a raid in Sardinia.