Monday, August 13, 2012

Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying Organization Loses One!

I was floored to read of the first crack in the stranglehold the Virginia Association of Counties (VACO) has on county-state politics.  Kudos to Goochland County.  I don't know how the Board of Supervisors came to the conclusion they did, but it is a pleasing development.

For a long time, I wondered how public debate always seemed to be so well-funded in favor of fatter government and getting more financial lard slathered all over its teeming bureaucrats.  Then I served a term on the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water District, and discovered that a good portion of the money we were given to fund operations was given to an organization called the Virginia Association of Soil & Water Conservation Districts (VASWCD).  Looking into it further, I discovered that VASWCD was essentially a "Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying Organization", or a "TFLO".  A large portion of the annual dues the Lord Fairfax district sent to them were used to fund lobbying efforts at the local, state, and even federal level.  I also learned that even the small bureaucracy that was the Lord Fairfax SWCD wasn't just funding VASWCD, but was also funneling cash to additional TFLO-type groups such as the Shenandoah Resource Conservation & Development (RC&D) Council.

Being a Libertarian, I objected to the District's membership in these organizations every year, because I think it is absolutely wrong for government to lobby government.  Legislators should adjust policy according to the wishes of the citizens, rather than doing so at the behest of highly-paid lobbyists who represent the 1% elite bureaucrats and politicians who presume to know what's best for the rest of us!

Unfortunately, I was the minority on the Board, and as a result the District continues to throw cash at lobbying front groups.

What VASWCD was to the Soil & Water District, the VACO is to county governments.  There are many other similar NGO's for every type of government under the sun.  The Virginia Municipal League, the Virginia Court Clerks Association, etc all have some lobbying component, and all of them are one way or another funded by taxpayers.

So VACO is the definition of a Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying Organization.  The reason that it and similar organizations should be of serious concern to every taxpayer is this:  the things they lobby for are almost always beneficial to governments and bureaucrats, and almost always detrimental to taxpayers.

County bureaucrats cannot lobby the government while on taxpayer time.  But they can do the same thing by setting up a front organization, call it an NGO, throw some taxpayer cash at it, and perform an ethical skirt-and-dodge.

Political hacks and bureaucrats should not be allowed to grab cash from the government trough, and shovel it at "non-government organizations" ("NGO's") so the NGO can then hire legions of paid lobbyists to work against the wishes of the taxpayer; government should never be given any opportunity to influence itself!

There are literally thousands of NGO's similar to VACO in the United States, and they all exist for one purpose: to get more taxpayer loot (or power) shoveled into their gaping maw.

The legislature should eliminate the ability of local and state bureaucrats or government bodies to lobby any other government body.  Membership in any NGO that lobbies (directly or indirectly) for anything that would favor the individual or originating government should be absolutely forbidden.

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