Lobbying During the Pandemic

Lobbying During the Pandemic

By Sandy Long, Chaffee County Chapter Leader

A few years ago, I attended the CCL June Conference and Lobby Day in DC. After two days of informative and inspirational seminars, we went to Capitol Hill to lobby. I was surprised by the cramped congressional offices. You might end up meeting in a small conference room, their waiting area, or even in the hall. Usually, you’ll meet with a staff person, but if you are fortunate, the Member of Congress (MOC) might drop by for a picture or a quick chat. I was involved in four lobby meetings that day. The offices are located in several different buildings, so you have to allow extra time for walking from place to place. Fortunately, there are underground pedestrian tunnels so you don’t have to deal with the outside heat and humidity. It was a full day and a great experience.

Due to the pandemic, meeting with our MOC’s is now more challenging. In June, our Colorado CCL Lobby teams were able to meet via video or audio conference calls with staff from all offices (seven Representatives and both Senators). These remote meetings make it harder to develop relationships and read non-verbal clues, so we had to prepare more for the meetings.

The positive thing about the remote meetings was that we could get more constituents involved. Several of these constituents, like Martin Koppers and Ankita Arora, were lobbying for the very first time.

“The Lobby meeting was certainly a unique experience for me. I have never been particularly political and my involvement with CCL has provided insight into how citizens and government communicate. The CCL liaison and the chapter leader did an excellent job of setting expectations for the meeting, the participants, and what to expect from the MOC staffer. The meeting plan was designed to optimize the allotted time and ensure frank communication from each side. The staffer was informed, congenial, and gave clear direction as to how to garner more support. He is looking for more input from constituents. I would highly recommend participation in these lobby meetings, especially to anyone that is new to CCL or just wants to get a clearer understanding of how our government works.”  —Martin Koppers

“I joined CCL in March and am still learning how things work. As a scientist, this was my first time lobbying and I did not know what to expect. On advice from my chapter lead, I prepared for the meeting by learning about my representative and going through CCL training. We had two practice sessions that helped me gain confidence. The lobby meeting went well and we had a very informal discussion which I liked. It reminded me that the people at the capital are humans before being politicians. We talked for 30 minutes but I preferred that it would have gone longer. I am definitely going to lobby again and would like to go to DC to meet them in person. I would recommend all CCL members participate in at least one lobby meeting. It’s a good way to get insight into how the government works and how lobby meetings are conducted.”  —Ankita Arora

The CCL Lobby Meetings in early December are again going to be virtual which makes it easier for members who have never lobbied before to get involved. To help prepare, check out CCL’s Climate Advocate Training.