GOP congressman says lobbyists give him 'good input' on legislation

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The Georgia Republican offered a spirited defense of lobbyists' influence.

A Republican congressman offered a spirited defense of lobbyists and their influence this week, telling a right-wing interest group that he thinks the influence industry gets a bum rap.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), who is challenging GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler for her seat, told Turning Point USA on Tuesday that "good" lobbyists are helpful when it comes to legislative decisions.

Asked how much influence lobbyists have over bills, Collins answered, "Good ones have, I would say, good input, OK?"

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"It's like anything else: you got good and you got bad. You got good politicians, you got bad politicians. You got good preachers, you got bad preachers. You got good cops, you got bad cops. Too many times we paint the lobbyists brush with too big a stroke," Collins explained, adding that they are helpful because lawmakers "cannot be experts on everything."

He added that "lobbyists in the strictest sense, especially if you have an issue that affects a certain industry, I would want to hear from what their perspective" and noted that he also relies on them to fairly explain both sides of the issue.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Collins has received at least $209,588 in contributions from lobbyists over his political career. He has also received more than $2.5 million in political action committee funds from business interests.

In recent years, Collins has authored a number of business-friendly legislative proposals, including bills to provide tax incentives for those who install broadband in targeted areas, to make it easier for small businesses to reorganize through bankruptcy, to update music licensing rules, and to protect trade secrets. He also voted for Donald Trump's 2017 tax legislation, which slashed corporate tax rates while raising taxes for about 10 million families.

His office did not respond to an inquiry about which lobbyists are "good" and what "good input" they have had in those and other legislative decisions.

In an email, a Collins campaign spokesperson noted that in addition to Turning Point USA, Collins believes "good" lobbyists include the National Rifle Association, which "knows more about the battles to protect the Second Amendment at the state, local and federal levels than anyone else."

This post was updated to include a comment from Collins' office.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.