11/5/15 How can we assess the role lobbyists play in our democracy?

How can we assess the role lobbyists play in our democracy?

From its start in the lobby of the Houses of Commons in the 19th century to allow members of the public to meet with representatives, the practice of lobbying (a profession, which has for a variety of reasons, been both vilified and sanctified) has grown to become a $2.6 billion industry.

Worldwide, a generally universal attitude toward politicians often casts them as pliant actors who succumb to power brokers, influence peddlers, and lobbyists.

This view, however, doesn’t readily take into account what politicians need to stay in power — and therein still lies the foundations of any democracy. Though money and influence may play a large part in government, when it comes to popular support, politicians often ignore the will of the people at their peril.

Touching on transparency and ethics in government, our panel of experts will shed light on the pros and cons of this process of influencing government.


Timothy A. Canova. Tim Canova is a Professor of Law and Public Finance at the Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad Law Center. Canova’s research crosses the disciplines of law, public finance, economics, and history.

Eric Eikenberg. As the CEO of the Everglades Foundation, Eikenberg leads the Foundation’s science, advocacy, communications and legal teams, which are nationally recognized for their expertise in Everglades restoration. Eikenberg has extensive policy and political experience in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. During his time in public service, Eikenberg served as chief of staff to former Gov. Charlie Crist and former U.S. Rep. E. Clay Shaw.

Dominic Calabro. Under Calabro’s leadership as President and CEO, Florida TaxWatch has earned and maintained the respect of the state’s most highly regarded and influential leaders. Calabro also serves as President and CEO of the Prudential Productivity Awards, which recognizes, rewards, and works to replicate outstanding government productivity and innovative cost-saving achievements throughout Florida government worth more than $9 billion to date. Though not himself a registered lobbyist, his unique position as a valuable governmental resource has given him extensive exposure to the process.  


Michael Mayo. Sr. Columnist, Sun Sentinel.Mike is an experienced, well-respected journalist who has written on the legislative process.


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