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At DNC, lobbyists do more schmoozing than check writing

First lady Michelle Obama stands at the podium for a soundcheck during preparations for the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

As the Democrats kick off their party convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, today, a lot of interest groups will be listening closely to the messaging: Hispanics and women, small- and big-businesses, labor unions, environmentalists. And, of course, their lobbyists, as well.

The party conventions are a magnet for anyone who wants to influence the next Administration. But Howard Marlowe, president of the American League of Lobbyists, says his members aren't necessarily in Charlotte to bend ears on specific issues.

"Generally speaking, people look at lobbyists and say, well, if they’re around there has to be money," Marlowe said. "And this is one of those cases, it's not the place where lobbyists are doing lobbyist business. What they’re doing is schmoozing business."

And Marlowe says they’re not necessarily doling out big campaign checks.

But Bob Biersack of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics says the lobbyist money will be at work.

"What will happen in Charlotte will be a little more indirect," he said. "There might be organizations that sponsor events —- breakfasts for delegates or other people -— and the way they finance those events may not be necessarily directly from lobbyists, but from companies and other kinds of organizations" whose lobbyists are working behind the scenes to make their mark.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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