Man rejecting a paper

It’s important to get your point of view across to the people who matter. It’s vital that you do this in the right way. Above all, you must avoid any hint of a conflict of interest. The best way to do this is to hire a professional lobbyist from a consulting firm. Here is what you need to know.

Understanding conflict of interest

Public officials are people. This means that they have a life history before they entered public office. It also means that they have personal lives outside of their public duties. They may also have external business interests. Overall, this is not just acceptable but beneficial. A public official’s personal experience can often provide a solid foundation for making official decisions.

At the same time, however, it can also be a vulnerability. Some public officials may find it difficult to maintain clear boundaries between their public lives and their private ones. In particular, it may lead to officials being perceived as being too close to people or organizations with vested interests. This can then lead to a public official’s decisions being questioned.

In public office (as in life in general) very few decisions are totally cut and dry. Many could go one way or the other, depending on the judgment of the person (or people) making them. This means that many decisions have the potential to leave a public official open to public scrutiny. Suspicions against a public official do not have to be justified to be damaging.

The practicalities of conflict of interest

The concept of conflict of interest is simple in theory. The challenge comes when you try to put it into practice. For example, a state legislature could ban public officials from accepting any gifts at all in any situation. This would be a very safe approach, but it would clearly be far too extreme.

In fact, trying to place hard-and-fast rules on adult human behavior is generally very hard and can take a lot of effort. Sometimes, putting restrictions like these into practice may end up creating unnecessary limitations and confusion. This can lead to ill-feeling all around.

To avoid this, the various states have all created their own definitions of “conflict of interest”. In Nevada, for example, the definition essentially says that a conflict of interest may be caused by gifts, financial interests, and/or personal relationships (Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 281A.420).

Public officials are expected to familiarize themselves with their state’s definition of conflict of interest. The onus is very much on them to keep it front and center whenever they have dealings with other people. This includes in their personal lives as well as in their professional ones.

Understanding ethical lobbying

Everybody is a lobbyist. If you have a point of view and you’re prepared to stand up and be counted, then you’re a lobbyist. Professional lobbyists are just people who are particularly effective at delivering information clearly and persuasively. Ethical lobbying is essentially the skill of convincing people through reasoned argument rather than through bribes or threats.

Modern ethical lobbyists respect the intentions of the law rather than just following it to the letter. In other words, they don’t try to find loopholes to exploit. This may get short-term results, but, even if it does, this approach can do massive long-term damage. What’s more, the damage can spread beyond the person responsible and have repercussions for the profession as a whole.

Instead, lobbyists aim to deliver genuine value by making it easier for people to make well-informed decisions. The key point to remember is that most public officials are intelligent and often well-educated. They are not, however, necessarily experts in any given topic. They cannot be experts on every possible topic.

Like everyone else, therefore, they need to inform themselves before they act. This means that they need reliable sources of information. Ideally, those sources should be both concise and clear. A modern lobbyist’s job, therefore, is to make themselves a valued and trusted source of reliable and relevant information.

Trust is a lobbyist’s most important asset

Trust is key to modern lobbying. Firstly, many clients need to be able to trust that their lobbying consultant will respect their confidentiality. Lobbyists must be relied upon to maintain the highest standards in their own professional behavior. They must also carefully vet any third-parties who have access to client information and implement robust data security.

Secondly, public officials need to be able to trust lobbyists to treat them with integrity. This goes much further than avoiding placing a public official in a situation that could lead to a conflict of interest. It means ensuring that a client’s message is presented entirely transparently. For example, it is fine to present best and worst-case scenarios, but not to manipulate them.

Lobbyists who continually work ethically and demonstrate their credibility will come to be respected and trusted. This helps to ensure not just that they retain access to key people but that they can gain access to new contacts. As with all walks of life, if someone has done a good job helping you, then there is a good chance you will recommend them to someone else.

Ethical lobbying in Nevada

The general principles of ethical lobbying in Nevada are much the same as the general principles of ethical lobbying anywhere else. As is often the case, however, details matter. A Nevada lobbyist will understand not just the local laws and rules, but also the local system. The best Nevada lobbyist will be able to navigate the system with maximum efficiency.

This is hugely important because there can often be very limited time to communicate with Nevada public officials. Firstly, there will typically be a deadline to comment on a potential change to the Nevada state legislature. Secondly, it’s highly unlikely that Nevada public officials will be focused purely on the topic which interests you.
In short, effective Nevada legislative assistance depends on being able to communicate with the right person in the right way at the right time. David Goldwater Consulting excels at this. To book a consultation, or consult their extensive range of educational resources, just visit their website.

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