IFAS | Freedom Writer | October 1998 | lobbying.html

RTV tips for grassroots lobbying

Panelists for the "Tips for Effective Grassroots Lobbying" training session were: Jeff Kwitowski, grassroots legislative liaison for the National Christian Coalition; Sheila Moloney, executive director of Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum; and Marc Wheat, counsel to the US House Commerce Committee.

Kwitowski, along with Jeffrey Taylor, form the national Christian Coalition's lobbying office in Washington, DC. They invest considerable resources promoting their weekly publication "Action Alert" which outlines and summarizes the tentative schedule for upcoming votes in the House and Senate. It then informs its members what position to take on the various legislation. Encouraging members to contact their elected officials directly, the "Alert" provides members with the Capitol switchboard's toll free number: 1-800-504-0031.

The weekly action alert is available at www.cc.org, the Christian Coalition's website. To be added to the "Action Alert" fax list, Kwitowski invited participants to call 1-800-325-4746, request the National Operations Department, and ask to be added to the weekly "Action Alert" faxlist.

Moloney spoke of her group's successes at the grassroots level. Title X (National Family Planning Program) defunding is high on the Eagle Forum's priority list. (Eagle Forum's website is www.eagleforum.org.) Moloney encouraged attendees to contact the Department of Health of Human Services to obtain publication FP-110037, the Family Planning Grantees, Delegates, and Clinics 1998/1999 Directory [available via the internet at www.hhs.gov (find: OPA Clearinghouse Publications List)].

The publication, which is available without charge, lists more than 4,000 family planning clinics that receive federal funding. Moloney encouraged attendees to use this information to identify Title X recipients in their local areas. Then, to lobby the boards or agencies responsible for applying for Title X funds, encouraging them not to accept funding, as it permits teenage girls a right to privacy. As far as lobbying tools, Moloney stressed that letters and phone calls are more effective than email. She also advised participants to learn the names of the congressional aides who deal with each issue of concern to the lobbyist.

Wheat spoke of building a personal relationship with each congressional aide. He said it was "taking turf for Christianity." Wheat encouraged participants to put "flesh" on their issues of concern. As an example of "putting flesh" on an issue, he described a fundraiser for a "pregnancy crisis center" that his family is actively promoting. He invited a few members of his elected official's legislative staff to attend this benefit. At the benefit a live ultrasound was performed on two pregnant women, who were in their last trimester. This was a "tool" to encourage a congressional override of President Clinton's veto of the so-called "partial birth abortion" bill.

Moderator Sally Campbell, of the Louisiana Christian Coalition, told attendees that to find out the names of their federally elected officials' aides, they can use the Congressional Quarterly, which is available at most public libraries. If the local library does not have a copy, Campbell recommended contacting your elected official and requesting a printout of the names of the aides taken from the Congressional Quarterly.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.