Want to harangue your member of Congress, but don't have the time to pick up the phone?
For $4.95, someone else will do it for you.
Welcome to the world of lobbyists on demand. A new company, called Amplifyd, is offering an inventive way for citizens to influence the policy debate -- for the nominal fee, the company will have a caller press the customer's issue of choice with a targeted lawmaker or official in Washington.
Founder Scott Blankenship said the company is geared toward everyday Americans who currently “don’t really have an impact” in the capital.
Like Napster to the music industry, or Amazon to big retail, Blankenship hopes his company will put more tools in the hands of the public and tilt the balance away from, in this case, corporate lobbying.
“Corporations and these entities are having far too big of an influence,” he told FoxNews.com.
Whether policy-conscious Americans will take up the offer and use Amplifyd to push their pet issues remains to be seen.
But here's how it works. The company works with nonprofit groups, who set up “campaigns” for different causes and get a portion of the profit from the campaign. (The company and its callers get the rest of the money.)
For instance, The Endangered Species Coalition is currently running an Amplifyd campaign to lobby Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to maintain Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves. Individuals who are interested in the cause can pay $4.95 to have Amplifyd make the call to Jewell -- or Jewell's office -- on their behalf.
Another campaign encourages individuals to call on California lawmakers to change a loophole in existing law that allows used cars to be sold with un-addressed safety recall issues.
The idea is the more calls that are bought, the more pressure will be applied. Though many of the current campaigns are for left-leaning causes, Blankenship says his company is non-partisan.
So why not just sign a petition, which by the way is free? Blankenship claims that the old-fashioned cold call to a politician is much more effective.
Blankenship told FoxNews.com he got the idea to start his company after getting involved in grassroots activism himself. Blankenship, a self-described health conscious individual who leans libertarian, is passionate about anti-fluoridation (for the uninitiated, this involves concerns over fluoride in the water supply). But he was frustrated with how little he felt his voice was being heard.
“[I felt I] wasn’t being effective or reaching the right people,” he said.
Blankenship said he thinks this is a common problem: many Americans are passionate about an issue, but do not have the time or the resources to get more involved. The voice they do have, he said, is drowned out by powerful corporate lobbyists in D.C.
Blankenship said the company is currently focusing on spreading the word about its services, but he is hoping to eventually have an impact on the lobbying culture in Washington.
“I’d like to see a decline or a decrease or a slowdown of the trend of the influence of lobbying on politicians,” he said.