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February 17–18, 2020

How do corporate interests impact politics? How are regulations used to benefit private over public interests? How can civil society organize to balance corporate lobbies?

Join the Stigler Center and the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation for two interrelated lunch seminars led by Lobby99 CEO Linor Deutsch. Deutsch will present her organization’s innovative model, and explain how crowdfunding can be harnessed to become a substantial force against corporate lobbies. Multiple case studies based on Deutsch’s personal experience in the Israeli parliament (Knesset) will be used, where she debated corporate lobbies on issues such as corruption and stagnation in the banking sector, natural resource misuse, and antitrust and anti-corruption legislation.

Linor Deutsch is the CEO of Lobby99, and was the organization’s first public lobbyist, beginning in 2015. Deutsch graduated from Tel Aviv University majoring in law and political science, and also holds an M.A. in Gender Studies from the same university. Following an internship in corporate law, she became a political aide to MK Shay Hermesh, a member of the Israeli parliament. She then proceeded to work as the chief legislative counsel to the Israeli Farmers Federation, working with corporate lobbyists to promote the interests of the underserved agricultural sector in the country. Having seen the pernicious effect of lobbyists on the legislative process from both sides – both as a political aide, and as a legislative counsel to an organization which purchased the services of corporate lobbies – she chose to make a transition to the NGO world, using her experience to promote the public interest. Deutsch was selected three years in a row as one of the top 100 most influential people in Israel, as one of the “35 under 35,”received the award for top activist of the year, and other accolades.

Monday, February 17: How corporations and special interest groups corrupt the political and legislative process

What is a lobbyist? How do lobbyists work, and how do private interest groups use them to promote or prevent regulations for their benefit and against the public interest? How does Lobby99 effectively represent the public interest, thwarting corporate lobbyists’ efforts, as well as actively promoting legislation and regulation that serves the common good? Deutsch explains how the lobbying system works, based on her personal exposure to the Israeli legislative process. By examining several case studies, she offers answers to these questions, while comparing the role of lobbyists in Israel versus the United States. She also recounts how she arrived at Lobby99 and led the organization’s successful pilot project – increasing the transparency of lobbyists’ activity in the Israeli parliament.

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Tuesday, February 18Lobby99: An innovative model of how crowdfunding can be harnessed to promote the public interest

Deutsch will explain the development of Lobby99’s model and principles and how the organization became the first and largest 100% subscription-based, crowd-funded initiative in Israel. She will present some of the main challenges that arise when operating in the context of such a model (the “price” of democracy): member retention; creating and maintaining consensus regarding priorities; the need to maintain public relations. Finally, Deutsch will present Lobby99’s vision for the future, and how this model could be replicated to balance the interests of corporate and private lobbies with those of the general public.

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All seminars take place from 12 to 1 p.m. in Harper Center C05  (5807 S Woodlawn Ave).