So you need a helping hand in Washington -- say, to get an export license that's been unexpectedly delayed, imperiling a foreign sale. If you're a big company, no problem. You hire one of those $10,000-a-month lobbyists in Gucci loafers. Presto, you have a license. But what if $10,000 represents your weekly payroll?
Enter John L. Zorack, a gregarious ex-Marine lawyer who spent 20 years lobbying for the aviation and transportation industries. Zorack has set up a "low overhead" lobbying co-op to help what he calls the "mom-and-pop businesses of America" find justice in the corridors of the capital. "I always felt that the little guys didn't have enough access," he says. "They either couldn't find or couldn't afford the right people. My idea was to put together the low-image, high-quality [lobbying] talent to help smaller businesses at a reasonable price."
Toward that end, Zorack's Professional Lobbying & Consulting Center (PLCC) -- three years old but just now beginning to roll -- has signed up some 230 Washington insiders, including former members of Congress, ex-IRS tax attorneys, fisheries specialists, you name it. The lobbyists pay a onetime fee of $100 for co-op membership, plus 15% of any income they generate through Zorack's referral.
"We can help people on things too narrow for trade associations to deal with," says Zorack, "whether it's customs, taxes, exports, or music for the army band." The fees generally range from $75 to $125 an hour -- with or without Gucci loafers.
-- Jay Finegan