Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
– First Amendment of the US Constitution
The Constitution makes it clear that Americans have the right petition the government to redress their grievances. But the Constitution says nothing about the money that’s needed to do this petitioning.
And if money is needed to effectively petition for the redress of our grievances, then the black community may be grieving in quiet.
A review of lobbying expenditures in 2008 shows that major lobbyists for the African American constituency – the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the National Urban League – spent a pittance compared to the lobbying powerhouses of Washington, DC.
As wikipedia describes it, “Lobbying is the practice of influencing decisions made by government. It includes all attempts to influence legislators and officials, whether by other legislators, constituents or organized groups. Governments often define and regulate organized group lobbying.”
In Washington, DC, millions of dollars are spent annually to lobby the Congress or the Administration for one thing or another. According to a recent edition of the National Journal, these are the lobbying expenditures for the top 15 firms in 2008:
1. US Chamber of Commerce: $62.3 million
2. Institute for Legal Reform (US Chamber): $29.2 M
3. ExxonMobil: $29.0 M
4. AARP: $27.9 M
5. Northrop Grumman: $20.6 M
6. PhRMA: $20.2 M 7. American Medical Association: $20.9 M
8. GE: $18.6 M
9. National Assn of Realtors: $17.2 M
10. American Hospital Association: $16.7 M
11. Boeing: $16.6 M
12. Lockheed Martin: $15.3 M
13. Koch Industries: $15.1 M
14. AT&T Services (and affiliates): $15.0 M
15. National Cable and Telecommunications Association: $14.2 M
And this is what the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and the National Urban League – the biggest lobbying organizations for the African American constituency – spent in 2008:
• NAACP: $100,000
• the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF): $160,000
• the National Urban League (NUL): $240,00