In today’s podcast we will be discussing another one of my rules for effective lobbying – never speak on behalf of another entity or purport to represent its position without specific, clear, definitive, precise authorization. I cannot stress enough how important this rule is. Violating this rule potentially can get you into more trouble than violating any other rule that I’ve discussed before. Obviously, intentionally misrepresenting someone else’s position is unspeakably bad, and in most instances it is likely to be a career ender.
Inadvertent misrepresentation is almost as bad, and its potential is what gives rise to this rule. Imagine that you are testifying at a committee hearing and are asked what position on the bill in question has been taken by hypothetical Entity X, which you do not represent and which is not present at the hearing. Suppose further that based on your good faith belief, you state that Entity X supports the bill and as a result, the bill passes the committee. In fact, Entity X opposed the bill. To put it another way, suppose you inaccurately state that Entity X opposes the bill which results in the committee defeating the bill when in fact, Entity X supported the legislation. I can’t help thinking of the Southwest Airlines ad tagline, “Wanna get away?”
Not convinced? Think about it this way. How would you react if you represented Entity X in the preceding hypothetical.