The Business of Lobbying | Bright & Carpenter Consulting, Inc.
Emma Highfill | Photographer
Natalie Bright and Marlee Carpenter of Bright & Carpenter Consulting, Inc. are all too aware of this, and for the past 18 years have dedicated their careers to making it easier for working Kansans to be heard.
“Our job is to work as a liaison between state policymakers and private sector businesses, and to help find solutions for issues that arise,” said Bright, cofounder and partner of her firm.
As contract lobbyists, Bright & Carpenter Consulting, Inc. represents numerous organizations spanning multiple industries. The company was founded after Bright left her job as a tax lobbyist for the Kansas Chamber and partnered with Carpenter, whom she had met at Washburn Law School. Together, the two make up the Bright & Carpenter firm, which boasts a strong foundation in private business lobbying, but also more recently has worked with some municipalities and social services groups.
“Lobbyists wear a lot of hats,” Bright explained. “First and foremost, we’re educators. Our job, essentially, is to gather as much information as possible and then communicate between different parties so that legislators can make the best decisions.”
Working not only with multiple businesses but also with hundreds of elected officials in the statehouse, Bright and Carpenter interact with plenty of individuals, each with their own background and interests. Navigating those diverse personalities can be challenging, Bright said, but it’s also one of the most fulfilling parts of the job.
THE SOCIAL MEDIA IMPACT
Bright said lobbying and working in the political arena as a whole has become a bit trickier since the advent of social media. It is more common now for things to be taken out of context or portrayed in a negative light, and the original meaning or intent often doesn’t make it into the 280-character recounting.
“Many people have a negative connotation of politicians, but I have the bird’s eye view and can see that 99.9 percent of them are there for the right reasons,” Bright said. “Even if I don’t agree with everything they decide, they truly do want to make things better.”
At the end of the day, Bright and Carpenter simply want to help lawmakers ‘make things better’ for as many people as possible.