Contract lobbyists that survive past ten years of state & local experience know all too well that time is usually the most limiting variable within your professional services. Clients seem to want help promoting, passing, progressing, or defeating legislation at the same time periods within any given legislative session. While State Capitols may vary, the demands on a corporate client’s industry most often requires a state affairs director to juggle one day in Jefferson City with another meeting in Columbus.
For lobbyists less familiar with precisely what general aviation offers those who may be influence-peddling in the morning, while campaigning in the afternoon, I offer the following five Jimmy from Seinfeld scenarios to explain how plane makes for gain:
- Lobbyist Travis Brown has a Sunday night meeting with healthcare clients who cannot easily meet during the week in Kansas City. Due to their prolonged dinner meeting, a late night return drive is no longer optimal. An early Monday morning hearing or legislative briefing before 9 am in Jefferson City prompts Lobbyist Travis Brown to shorten his two hour car ride into one 30 minute flight to optimize both meeting slots.
- Lobbyist Travis Brown needs to meet several new candidates for office that his clients may wish to support for higher office. Three of the top five candidates are having their major fundraisers or town hall debates within the same week. Each of the candidates are from completely opposite corners of Missouri, making a show me state drive or shared commute with other lobbyists impractical. Due to campaign deadlines, and future travel obligations, lobbyist Travis Brown chooses to flight plan all candidates within one full day of short excursions.
- Lobbyist Travis Brown has held an important ballot strategy dinner appointment in Saint Louis with a major client and his guests for eight weeks now. However, after a long day of legislative committee hearings in Jefferson City, followed by two Capitol Lobbying Days on the same afternoon, Travis is running late to make his dinner on time. To make matters worse, an emergency meeting with a State Senator has been called for 9:30 pm back at the State Capitol on a pressing policy matter. Travis Brown chooses to correct his schedule by compressing four hours in a car into less than one hour to and from the State Capitol with time to spare for his last caucus meeting.
- Lobbyist Travis Brown has agreed to speak at both a morning radio show in Springfield and a chamber of commerce debate in Joplin months in advance on the same day. Within the last 72 hours, it becomes important to attend an issue advocacy conference in Washington, DC that starts bright and early the next morning. Since Travis can be joined by copilots and his film production crews if he flies, he arranges private aviation to make all of his travel segments on time.
- Lobbyist Travis Brown is having a great legislative session in Jefferson City, but has seen little of his newest industry client near the Missouri River. His government affairs client handles state & local public affairs across at least eight Midwestern States. Due to new industry regulations and several crisis communication projects, his client is only available to meet this week in Chicago. As it turns out, Travis was headed to Des Moines, Iowa earlier on the same day, after his legislative testimony was finished mid-week in Jefferson City. By flying onto Chicago from Des Moines, Travis is able to join the industry meeting and compress a three day slot of client prospect travel into one overnight trip.
I use these third person references because my life, and the lives of others on which I depend, have been improved through the vigilant use of general aviation. America is a big place, and lobbying across the fifty states and some major cities can quickly take its toll as a carpet-bagging frequent flyer. While using airplanes is very important to me since I am my own owner-operator pilot, it is also very important to thousands of small communities. The Airplane Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) produced some great studies that outline the 1.2 million jobs that are sustained by one flight after another. Many Governors themselves depend on private pilots themselves, or are familiar with how worldwide aircraft manufacturing is lead from states like Kansas, Georgia, Missouri, or Washington.
Like most freedoms, the price to use it is responsibility.