Money, Money, Money: the U’s Lobbying Efforts in Washington D.C.

By Kylee Ehmann

It’s no secret that money has a large sway in politics, especially on the national level. Students may be surprised, though, to learn that the U participates in the process.

In 2014, the U spent $350,000 out of its total operating expenditures of $3.3 million dollars for lobbying (attempting to influence government leaders to promote legislation) in Washington D.C. The money went toward regulations related to federal budget and appropriations, health issues, land use and education, according to the Center for Responsible Politics.

Jason Perry, vice president for the U’s Government Relations, said it’s important for the U to participate in this process, as national laws can have serious impacts on the university.

“Changes in certain tables in reimbursements on federal programming can have an immediate impact on the bottom line at the U,” he said, “and we have to make sure that we’re connected to what’s happening there.”

Perry also said having lobbyists in Washington D.C. allows the U to connect the school’s researchers to federal grants.

The U has strict policies against using any federal funding in order to lobby, and Perry said none of the money comes from student fees. All money given to politicians came from individuals associated with the school and not the U itself.

According to the Center for Responsible Politics, the U has spent $190,000 so far this year in lobbying. Perry said each university in the state has someone working in Washington D.C. to monitor the issues that impact them.

Perry said while many people may believe that lobbying is bad, he believes it depends on who a firm is representing.

“No one would say that representing the U is a bad thing,” Perry said. “Everything we do helps the students here.”

Leadership at the U, such as the Board of Trustees, determines the university’s lobbying priorities.

Perry said students who would like to get involved with this process can contact the Hinckley Institute of Politics or work with ASUU’s government relations branch.

Matt Kirkegaard, a senior in political science and environmental and sustainability studies who works at the institute, thinks students should get involved in politics, especially on the local level.

“It’s important for students to be involved because they can make a real difference,” he said. “Politics will touch your life whether you care for it or not, and it is in your interest to involve yourself in public policy in whatever way, big or small.”

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