Lobbying RI’s part-time legislators is big business. Here’s how big it was in 2022.

John Marion discusses the power of lobbying in Rhode Island politics.

Originally published in the Providence Journal on February 6, 2023. Read more here. 

In his role as executive director of the citizens’ advocacy group Common Cause RI, John Marion is both a registered lobbyist and an outsider looking in.

As he sees it: “Lobbying is big business in Rhode Island. Former legislators — particularly former legislative leaders — are among the biggest beneficiaries because they can trade on their connections with former colleagues as an asset when pitching clients.”

“That’s why Rhode Island has long had a revolving door law — to prevent public officials from immediately cashing in on the knowledge and connections they made while serving in government. But that only lasts for a year.”

Marion believes “lobbyists are particularly powerful in Rhode Island because our legislature has little policy support staff and therefore legislators must rely on lobbyists for information and analysis.

“Rhode Island could limit the influence of lobbyists by creating a non-partisan policy staff and reforming our campaign finance system in ways that minimize the outsized role lobbyists play in funding political campaigns.”