opinion

Why is lobbying important?

Diane Duke

Because that’s how you make relationships with federal or state legislators – the people that eventually make the laws and regulations for industries.  Especially when you work in an industry that doesn’t get the greatest PR, like the adult entertainment industry.

Check out these stats:

  • In the first quarter of 2010, Altira Group Inc. (owner of Phillip Morris, the largest manufacturer of cigarettes in the U.S.) spent $3.1M lobbying the federal government on issues affecting the budget, taxes and cigarette trafficking, as well as tobacco and health care.
  • Paris-based Pernod Ricard, manufacturers of Beefeater gin and Chivas Regal scotch, lobbied Congress for trade deals, to the tune of $180,000 in the first quarter of 2010.
  • Even lobby group for (seemingly harmless) cellphone companies CTIA spent $2.03M in the second quarter of 2010 to influence the federal government on taxation of employer-provided phones. Telecom giant AT&T spent $3.09M on their own lobbying.
  • According to a report in The Guardian (guradian.co.uk), the American gun lobby, made up of several lobbying groups, has spent more than $22M in the last 20 years to influence government officals.

The adult industry is often a target for sensational media reports, burdensome government regulations and conservative smear campaigns – and this continues to happen because legislators and many in the public don’t understand that the adult industry is an industry. Misconceptions about our industry should be brought to light, so people begin to understand that those in adult are business owners and professionals.

Free Speech Coalition is the lobby group for the adult industry and we fund lobbying with revenue memberships and contributions. We don’t have the millions other industries spend on their lobbying efforts, but we do have the advantage of being able to tell our side of the story. And when FSC has lobbied in Sacramento, it was clear that the legislators look forward to speaking to people from the industry. They’re curious to meet performers (like most mainstream people), and they are interested in hearing about issues that affect the industry. They realize that we vote, we pay taxes and we support local economies.

FSC employs lobbyist Ignacio Hernandez to represent the industry in Sacramento, and FSC Executive Director Diane Duke is a registered lobbyist on the federal level.

When it comes to issues like 2257 and obscenity, FSC has always been on the forefront as a legal watchdog for the industry. But as times change and the industry becomes more “mainstream,” we find ourselves dealing other issues.

In 2009, FSC fought off a proposed bill that would have levied a 25 percent tax on adult products. This year, we also persuaded ICANN to recognize Governmental Advisory Committee concerns in the proposed of .XXX  sTLD; if approved, .XXX will cost adult webmasters millions a year in unnecessary fees and make it easier for anti-adult entities to take action against adult websites. The issue of workplace safety also has affected the industry – FSC has led the negotiations with Cal/OSHA to develop industry-friendly regulations.

Looking forward, we want legislators to understand our concerns, as digital channels of distributions become regulated, and standards are created around issues like content infringement.

FSC is proud to represent a pro-adult voice to legislators, media and the public – but we can’t do it without our members and supporters.

There has never been a better, or more crucial, time to  stand together and defend the adult community that we live and work in. For more information on how you can participate, contact (818) 348-9373 or blog@freespeechcoalition.com. – jc

(Illustration: Some rights reserved by Aiden Jones)

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