Lobbyists Exhort Telemarketers To Find Allies

WASHINGTON — Congressional lobbyists yesterday urged telemarketers to adopt an aggressive approach and gain allies both on Capitol Hill and in the local districts of federal lawmakers.

Speaking at the American Teleservices Association’s annual legislative conference here at the Mayflower Hotel, lobbyists from Washington-based MWW Group told telemarketers preparing to depart for meetings with lawmakers that they must show Congress members the consequences of the regulations they place on the industry.

Too often, federal lawmakers don’t see any risk in supporting legislation that telemarketers don’t want, but see plenty of risk in voting against it, the lobbyists said.

Telemarketers should arrange meetings with lawmakers not just in Washington but also in their home districts, where many of their constituents have telemarketing jobs, the lobbyists said. The industry should also ally with local officials — party leaders, union chiefs, Chamber of Commerce heads and elected officials — to influence their representatives in Washington.

“You can’t do it just with one day of visits a year,” said Bob Sommer, executive vice president for MWW Group. “It’s a 365-day-a-year job”

Industry members also should learn the insider’s lobbying game on Capitol Hill, said Jonathan Slade, senior vice president for MWW Group. They should target members of key committees for lobbying efforts and recruit them to ask questions and testify at hearings, as well as write letters of support to the administration and their fellow lawmakers.

Even though the business-friendly Republican party currently holds sway in Congress, telemarketers have not enjoyed strong congressional support, the lobbyists noted. Many key Republicans try to promote themselves as consumer advocates, and some that regularly bump heads with consumer groups see support for anti-telemarketing legislation as an opportunity to “throw a bone” to those constituencies, they said.

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