Lobbyists are a fourth branch of government, and must be pruned

Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin deserves praise for his stand on lobbying and lobbyists. As reported in the article “Galvin faulted on rules for lobbyists” (Page A1, Aug. 8), his efforts to sanitize the practice of lobbying in the process of public policy development were ruled invalid by a Superior Court judge. That decision is regrettable on several grounds.

Over the past quarter century lobbyists have become a fourth branch of government, at the state and federal level. Most of the influence they exert is anonymous. Their respective missions, whatever they may be, are undertaken largely cloaked in secrecy in a pervasive and impenetrable process. Any efforts, such as those undertaken by Galvin, to place a spotlight on this invisible empire are laudable.

The argument that disclosure of “names of lawmakers and officials they meet and talk to” would place a burden on lobbyists overlooks the fact that the oblique operations of lobbyists usually act to place a huge burden on the rest of us. I do hope that Galvin will appeal and attempt to assert what your reporter describes as his “zealous interpretation” of the state’s ethic laws.

Albert H. Whitaker Jr.

South Berwick, Maine

The writer was Massachusetts state archivist from 1979 to 1995.