lobbying

The NRA Spent A Record Amount Lobbying Congress In The First Quarter Of This Year

Last week's defeat of expanded background checks served as a reminder of special interest influence in Congress, and as we noted, Senators who voted against background checks received 8 times as much money from the gun lobby.

Here's another piece of the puzzle as to why background checks went down. The Center for Public Integrity notes that the National Rifle Association spent a huge amount lobbying Congress in the first quarter of 2012, spending "at least $800,000 lobbying the federal government during the first quarter — more than any year covering the same period, according to federal records.."

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Starbucks Is Inappropriately Pressuring Its D.C. Employees To Lobby For A Fiscal Deal

Photo credit: Flickr user Cherrysweetdeal

With six days to go before January 1st and both Clinton tax rates and the spending sequester takes effect, some in Washington are desperate to cut a deal, even if it's a bad deal that involves painful cuts to Social Security benefits.

CNN reports that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has written a letter to his chain's 120 stores in the Washington, D.C. area to ask employees there to write "Come Together" on coffee cups on Thursday and Friday.

"Rather than be bystanders, you and your customers have an opportunity -- and I believe we all have a responsibility -- to send our elected officials a respectful but potent message, urging them to come together to find common ground," Schultz wrote in his letter to the stores. He also apparently cited Fix The Debt, the powerful corporate front group that has been pushing for an agreement to cut Social Security benefits and lower corporate tax rates for months.

In a statement to CNN, the company stressed that these messages are voluntary.

But by even asking employees to voluntarily influence lawmakers to reach an agreement, Schultz is inappropriately pressuring them to take a political stand they may not agree with. For example, some of these employees may benefit from veterans or Social Security benefits that are at risk of being cut in a bad deal.

Starbucks employees should be able to decide for themselves what politics they endorse and should not be asked to write these messages as a part of their employment.

UPDATE: Read the full letter from Schultz here. It claims, without evidence, that the United States is experiencing a debt "crisis." Schultz also pivots from sympathy for the Sandy Hook massacre to the need to come together to address this so-called "crisis."

UPDATE ...

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