Full Transcript: Corporate Lobbyist Howard Franklin On GHOGH Podcast Part 1

Written by Staff
Howard Franklin
Corporate lobbyist Howard Franklin chats to Jamarlin Martin on the GHOGH podcast in a three-part series known as “The Swamp”. Image: Anita Sanikop

In episode 55 of the GHOGH podcast, and part 1 of “The Swamp” series, Jamarlin Martin talks to corporate lobbyist Howard Franklin, who has represented Amazon, Google, and Sprint.

We unpack former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s saying, “lobbyists write our laws,” and debate whether taking on the swamp should be a top 5 issue in Black America.

We also discuss AIPAC aggressively recruiting at HBCUs and whether voters for the pro-Israel lobby group blew up Andrew Gillum’s campaign for governor of Florida.

You can listen to the entire conversation right now in the audio player below. If you prefer to listen on your phone, GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin is available wherever you listen to podcasts — including Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 55: Howard Franklin
This is part 1 of “The Swamp” series. Jamarlin talks to corporate lobbyist Howard Franklin, who has represented Amazon, Google, and Sprint. We unpack former Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s saying, “lobbyists write our laws,” and debate whether taking on the swamp should be a top 5 issue in Black America. We also discuss AIPAC aggressively recruiting at HBCUs and whether voters for the pro-Israel lobby group blew up Andrew Gillum’s campaign for governor of Florida.

This is a full transcript of the conversation which has been lightly edited for clarity.

Jamarlin Martin: You’re listening to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin. We have a go hard or go home approach as we talk to the leading tech leaders, politicians and influencers. Let’s GHOGH! Today we have the great Howard Franklin on the show from Thompson Victory Group. How’s it going?

Howard Franklin: Very well. I appreciate you guys having me.

Jamarlin Martin: Let’s dive right into your story. Of course, we connected and you have represented big billion dollar clients such as Amazon and Google. Walk the audience through your career trajectory to becoming what they would call a lobbyist.

Howard Franklin: That’s a great question and a difficult one to give you a picture of. I would tell you the vast majority of people who are political professionals of any stripe come to the profession in so many different ways. I think the one common denominator, and it’s certainly where I started, was volunteering. I volunteered for a nonprofit organization that former mayor Maynard Jackson actually founded. And really just from reading about it in a newspaper at All Weekly in Atlanta. And from there, spent time working for another great mayor, Mayor Shirley Franklin on the city of Atlanta for almost three years. And between those inauspicious beginnings and where I sit in front of you today, I’ve done virtually everything in politics. I’ve been a staffer in large urban government. I’ve been a contract lobbyist. You mentioned Thompson Victory Group and that’s where I’ve parlayed those skills. I have been a campaign guy, a campaign manager and a campaign consultant all across the southeastern United States, Georgia where I live, but Mississippi, the Carolinas, even in the Cayman Islands and other parts of the Caribbean. And I’ve also been a nonprofit executive director. So the skill set and the relationship network really played well off one another. But it’s never a linear path. I might be able to point to a few people who said, “Hey, I got out of college with a poli sci degree. I went to law school. I was a staffer and then I was in politics.” But the vast majority of us, I would say, find different routes, whether it’s campaign work, whether it’s advocacy, whether it’s staff work, the entire gamut. It’s really just you find yourself in it.

Jamarlin Martin: What type of family background did you come from and where?

Howard Franklin: Yeah, so I’m originally from Detroit. I’ve really only lived two places in my life outside of the Cayman Islands, and my entire Childhood in Detroit where my parents were both retired from General Motors after a lifetime. I’m working in the factories, both blue collar folks, but funny enough, kind of part of this great remigration. My parents had both southerners who moved to Detroit for opportunity. And then as soon as I got an opportunity, I went to Morehouse College and moved back to the south and stayed in Atlanta.

Jamarlin Martin: When I was at Morehouse, I had this term that I used, “Oh, that’s a Cosby kid.” Were you a Cosby kid in terms of your upbringing?

Howard Franklin: I got in my fair share of trouble, so I don’t know that I would qualify.

Jamarlin Martin: You qualify. Your house was far from the Huxtable house?

Howard Franklin: My mom still lives in the house I grew up in. I remember a story I used to tell a couple of years after finishing my freshman year. In 1997, the FBI produced a crime index and you could actually see how dangerous a neighborhood was by inputting a zip code. This is when we first got computers and access to the web, broadband, all that at Morehouse. And I remember putting in 30314, which was 830 Westview Drive, that’s where Morehouse College and the entire AUC is located. And I think the crime stat level was a seven or an eight. And then I put in my home zip code, 48238 Northwest Detroit, Michigan. And it was a nine. So to put it into context, I don’t know if I qualify as a Cosby kid, but I was a good student. I had a 4.0 until I got admitted into Morehouse. I was obviously very studious and knew that education was a way out of the city.

Jamarlin Martin: Okay. So you graduated from Morehouse. What was your degree?

03:58 —Howard Franklin: I double majored, actually. I started with English. I got a journalism degree or a journalism scholarship. But when I, as you probably know, dear old Morehouse. Journalism’s what they got to lure me there. But when I got to the actual school, I guess the demand for the program had waned to the point where only English literature was available. So I did English Lit and then I picked up sociology and I finished both degrees in those four years.

Jamarlin Martin: And then where did you go after you graduated?

Howard Franklin: I did a bunch of stuff. I actually worked in the dotcom arena for about three years. I worked for two venture-funded and one bootstrapped dotcom company that did really interesting stuff. One of them is still kicking. I still talk to my former boss today. And then the other two have gone the way of the dinosaur. So I did all kinds of stuff. I did research and analysis. I did marketing. One of the difficulty… I love Morehouse College, but particularly if you don’t have a business degree from Morehouse College, the path for career placement isn’t one that’s well defined. I know that’s something they’re working on today. And it was definitely true when I graduated in 2001. I just kind of kicked around and found something I could do, I got my first job right before 9/11. So if I hadn’t gotten that job I probably would have moved back to Detroit and we wouldn’t be having this conversation today.

Jamarlin Martin: Okay. Got It. So how do you get into politics?

Howard Franklin: That’s a great question. Very slowly. As I mentioned earlier, I volunteered for a nonprofit. So at the time I was working for a really prominent and still very successful PR company which is more along the lines of what I wanted to do. Right. I’d gotten an English degree. I spent all four years writing for the Maroon Tiger. I saw myself as potentially a journalist. I did a bunch of assignments as a stringer for Black publications and independent publications around Metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia, and then I got a PR gig. So I thought that was exciting. Right. And that gig allowed me to travel and put on conferences and editorial tours in D.C. And New York, and traveled to see clients all over the country. So really exciting stuff. But what I realized in the commission of this work probably a year, a year and a half into it was that I didn’t feel like I was meeting the potential that had driven me to go to Morehouse and to study sociology and feel like I was really making an impact on the world. So I set out for a volunteer opportunity. I read about this pioneering nonprofit that Maynard Jackson had founded. And I went to a meeting that the article happened to mention and in this meeting a couple of the board members who obviously knew Maynard personally took an interest in me and set up, in fact, one in particular, his first wife arranged for us to meet. So basically got me on his calendar. I really didn’t have an appreciation, a full appreciation for who he was or what he had done for the city. I had some sense, but not probably as much as I should have. Showed up at the Equitable building, 22nd floor, spent an hour talking to him about young people and Morehouse. As a little bit of context, the nonprofit was focused on youth voter outreach, so it was really about getting young people, it’s kind of a precursor to vote or die or some of the other organizations that have kind of cropped up in more recent years. So showed up, met him, talked about everything under the sun. We both enjoyed it. He said on the way out, tell my assistant to put you back on the calendar for two weeks. We did that for about two and a half, three months, so probably met six, eight times. And toward the end of it he called me at my office and said, one day I want you to consider running this nonprofit that I founded. And I went to my boss and said, “Hey, you know, Atlanta’s former mayor just asked me to take on this adventure with them. So I’m sorry, but I got to leave”, and I did.

Jamarlin Martin: Okay, nice. And then so how do you jump to, “Hey, I’m going to found my own lobbying firm.” I know that there’s not a lot of people who look like us in that game. So how do you get there?

07:56 —Howard Franklin: So again, I think most of it was really doing a bunch of different things where I knew I had the confidence, I had the relationships, I had the skillsets to actually go out and stand on my own.

Jamarlin Martin: In hearing your story is, you graduate from college and a lot of people are figuring things out. So you get exposure to the kind of the tech bubble dotcom, you’re doing marketing, you’re doing public relations, and it could to the outsider seem like this guy is all over the place. However, when the right opportunity comes, you’re the only person who could connect a lot of these different skillsets, which makes you of course a more effective professional or more unique professional. And I think your story, I could relate to that.

Howard Franklin: Well, I appreciate you saying so. And I think you’re right. In a lot of ways, I credit having worked in client service with being able to build a business, right? I think I learned so much from the client service arena before I had even gotten to a place where I was fully ensconced in politics and policy. Right? But I mean, as I was saying before, I think a big part of the confidence and really the foundation to be successful as an entrepreneur comes from being able to do and having done a bunch of different things. So I had been a policy staffer for the state’s largest county. I had been a campaign manager for a gubernatorial candidate. I was the deputy communications director for Stacey Abrams when she first became the minority leader. So watching other ambitious people who were breaking barriers, who were doing impressive things gave me, one, confidence because I was in their sphere of influence. But two, when it was time to let me find my own thing, I knew I had people I could call upon. I knew I had experiences that clients would pay for and I knew I had reach that probably was uncommon in my neck of the woods.

Jamarlin Martin: What year do you start at Thompson Victory?

Howard Franklin: So I should clarify. So I spent the last five years as basically of counsel to Thompson Victory Group and it is actually a Republican led consultancy that does mostly regulatory affairs, worked for some of the companies that I mentioned. The company that I founded is called Ohio River South and I probably should’ve made that clear sooner. But Ohio River South is really a narrative driven organization, the focal point being the South Eastern United States. In my mind, the southeast in particular is almost like the new New England. Right? When you think about how this country was founded, where all of the intellectual capital, all the industry, were all invested in one part of the country to start, right? And that part of the country has continued to do well and to live off of that or that original, initial investment. But what we’re seeing today is that the southeast in particular, with this great re-migration, with all the confluence of companies, culture, innovation, colleges, etc, the southeastern United States in particular, the fastest growing region in the country, one of the youngest regions in the country, and also one of the most diverse is really where it’s at. So I named the company Ohio River South because the Ohio River was actually the original line of demarcation between north and south prior to the Mason Dixon line. And so our focal point has been the Ohio River and South. And so, our first three years of existence, we’re just three years old now, we’ve worked for better than 40 organizations across seven southeastern states, and then also included the district of Columbia and California. So we’ve really been focused on bringing scale, capacity and professionalism to a region that doesn’t have them like you might see in a Chicago or D.C. Or an LA or New England for instance.

Jamarlin Martin: In one sentence, the way you think about it, define a lobbyist in one sentence.

11:51 —Howard Franklin: That’s a good question. I have two ways to answer this question. When I get into an Uber and I’m in a suit and people ask, “Hey, where are you going and what do you do?” And I tell them I’m a lobbyist, as you might imagine, that always sparks a conversation. I haven’t had one of my car before. I want to hear more about what you do, etc.

Jamarlin Martin: Speaking of Uber, I read an article today where the guy picked up a passenger, dropped the family off at the airport, went back and robbed the house. So I guess that’s the new Uber hustle.

Howard Franklin: That’s crazy. My stock and trade answer is that I get paid to stop, start or stall legislation. That’s the shortest answer and probably the most direct answer I can give you.

Jamarlin Martin: Okay. I feel like that’s an honest answer. And it sounds like you’re oriented for the swamp in terms of how the political game works in terms of powerful interest groups, big wallets, like an Amazon or Google, that they may want legislation stopped, paused, modified or whatever, and you’re banging for these companies.

Howard Franklin: So I’ll say two things to that. One, my very first client at the state legislature, before I even knew what a lobbyist was. At the time I think the organization was 22 years old, they took a chance on a kid like me. I think I got paid $500 a month. This is 2002, 2003, a couple years out of college. I worked for an organization called Men Stopping Violence. They are a lauded organization, nonprofit that basically takes male offenders from domestic disputes, puts them in a half year program and basically rehabilitates them as men who can go out into society and could raise families and be trusted to do so. And when our state legislature which for more than a hundred years had been controlled by Democrats flipped to Republican, this organization which had never taken on advocacy before joined arms with other organizations and said, we want to make sure that this shift in political leadership does not a erode protections for women and children. And so they hired me to basically organize a dozen years of graduates from this program who were former batterers, some who had been referred by the court systems, others who had decided on their own that they want to get help to basically go down to the capitol, learn how it works and then the advocate for protections for women and children in the voices and from the perspective of the men who make the decisions at the state capitol. That’s my orientation. That’s the first time I ever came to the capitol.

Jamarlin Martin: So that sounds like good lobbying, but can you describe for the audience how you think about good lobbying and bad lobbing? What would be an example of bad lobbying?

Howard Franklin: The number one qualifier of bad lobbying, if we’re putting it in those terms, is operating outside of good faith, and as you probably know, I think based on even your career, the vast majority of successful people in this space are able to operate successfully because they can be trusted when they talk to lawmakers, when they talk to other advocates, when they talk to people who are stakeholders in the process. And so I think if we are qualifying bad lobbying, I think it starts with operators who are willing to bend the truth or stretch the truth in the service of making something happen.

Jamarlin Martin: Well, what about, it’s in the interest of the public, let’s just quantify it, to have a privacy system that’s rated eight. It’s really pro public, we want to protect your data and privacy, but Google and Facebook are like, hey, if it goes to an eight I could lose $10 million, $10 billion, if the public gets what it needs and wants, so I need to hire someone like you to go out there and politic and try to reduce that eight simplistically to a five where I could still make my quarterly earnings numbers or we could make x amount of profits, so I need to water down that legislation.

16:34 —Howard Franklin: So I would say again, two things. One, I’ve spent the majority of my career at the state and local level and I think although the attention gets paid to the presidential race or to what congress is up to, the vast majority of legislation that impacts people’s everyday lives is made at the State House, is made at city halls, county commissions and school boards. And sometimes even what Congress does or doesn’t do, because as you know, the last several years, our Congress has been confined by partisan gridlock. Right. So very little that requires bipartisanship is actually getting done at the federal level these days. Right. What is happening, because many of our state houses are controlled lock, stock and barrel by one party, that’s where so much legislation is actually taking place. I’ll give you a good example. Just two weeks ago, the state of Georgia passed very onerous, very restrictive abortion law, House Bill 481. We call it the heartbeat bill, and basically it says that after six weeks an abortion is illegal, making it one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. Now when you talk about or you hear about abortion, and not to get into the culture wars, but we talk about this as Roe versus Wade, what the Supreme Court might do, what Congress might do, but we’ve got individual states that are taking the congressional standard, the federal standard, and they’re making it even more onerous at the local level. And I’ll be willing to bet you a lot of the things that you care about, the state level is actually putting a finer point on whatever congress is or isn’t doing.

Jamarlin Martin: But the swamp is functioning in similar ways at the federal and state levels, right. So folks would really big wallets, folks who have a lot to lose. Sure, there could be good lobbying for good causes. But for the most part, the big wallets, big pharmaceutical companies, big tobacco, big tech, these groups, they want to get inside at the state, federal level and state level to promote their interest, their view of things, how things should work. And let me just throw out a quote. Eric Schmidt, he was the CEO and chairman of Google, who I believe is one of the most underappreciated masterminds in Silicon Valley in terms of showing people how to do big tech lobbying at scale, making long-term bets. He said that lobbyists write our laws.

Howard Franklin: That’s true.

Jamarlin Martin: Do you have a problem with that as a citizen?

Howard Franklin: Absolutely.

Jamarlin Martin: You do have a problem with that? The game needs to change?

19:22 — Howard Franklin: Well, let me explain a little bit about why that’s even possible. So again, we’re in Florida. Florida is a part time legislature. I think you guys have 160 members. It’s very similar to Georgia. We’ve got 236, part time legislature. We make all of our laws in the first quarter of a year. Citizen lawmakers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, farmers, you name it, pharmacists, they come down to the state capital in the city of Atlanta. And from January until late March or early April, they basically look at 2000 to 3000 pieces of legislation with no real backing professionally in a lot of the arenas that they’re making decisions on. This is true. I’m from Michigan, which is a little bit different there. There are 10 state legislatures in the entire country that are full time, right? So we’ve got people making decisions about billion dollar budgets. Our budget in Georgia is nearly $30 billion. And we’ve got, as I mentioned, teachers and doctors and dog catchers and dentists making decisions about the kind of things that you care about. That to say a part time state legislature makes lawmakers dependent on subject matter experts, right? So when you get a net neutrality bill, when you get a bill on certificate of need in rural parts of our community, and it comes before a committee and you’re a lawyer and you’re smart, but you’re not a subject matter expert, you’ve got to go to someone who says, I understand what this means, I understand the implications. I can share with you what a decision in one direction or the other would actually mean. The same thing is true virtually across this country. So part of the reason it’s possible, and I don’t think it’s true at the congressional level, congressional members make enough money to only do this, right? They have ample staff, they’ve got ample resources. But at the state level, these folks are citizen lawmakers. Oftentimes they’re in over their heads. They’re just not in a position to make a decision in three months on 3000 pieces of legislation without any real backing, without any legislative support. So I want to make that distinction because it’s only possible, in part, because of the way our government is set up.

Jamarlin Martin: You mentioned to me that in so many words you thought that hey, maybe there’s room for a more balanced view in terms of on the GHOGH show, or you go to my Twitter account or you go to Moguldom.com, I talk a lot about the swamp, about lobbyists diluting the equity specifically of the Black voter where money, special interests swamps up the will of the people, the protections of the people. And there’s conflict. Why do you think that the swamp has not come up as a top five issue in Black America? Because we don’t have an AIPAC, which is the lobbying organization for Jewish Americans. We don’t have a wallet like Google, Amazon, or big tobacco, our community. So the only thing we got is our vote, right? And we have these political leaders, but the wallets are so big in the power is so big, but Black people possibly have the most to lose from swamp activity.

Howard Franklin: So I have so many things to say to that. One, AIPAC has been successful and I’ve studied it as well.

Jamarlin Martin: Are you connected to AIPAC?

Howard Franklin: Not connected to it.

Jamarlin Martin: Have you been a member?

Howard Franklin: I’ve never been a member. No.

Jamarlin Martin: Did AIPAC sponsor your trip to Israel?

Howard Franklin: No. An organization that is affiliated with AIPAC, I assume.

Jamarlin Martin: That’s the thing. Just for the audience, when I say AIPAC, and this is where I part ways with people like Bakari Sellers who you probably know, where they’ll say that AIPAC is only an organization and it doesn’t do this stuff, but AIPAC has affiliates, AIPAC has members. So when I talk about AIPAC, I’m talking about the big umbrella, the affiliates, the members. That is a big powerful force.

Howard Franklin: So I’ll separate. Bakari and I went to Israel together.

Jamarlin Martin: You guys were sponsored by AIPAC?

23:53 — Howard Franklin: Well, there’s another organization, an educational organization, but yeah, affiliated. And it was a truly an educational trip. We were not lobbying to take a position. Bakari is an a little bit different situation than me because he’s been an elected member of his general assembly. He’s run for higher office. I have no designs or holding elected office. But what I will say about organizations like AIPAC is that when you look at them, I think there’s an appreciation that someone like me as an operator has to profess because they’ve been single minded in their one goal, which is the safety and security of Israel. Right? I think the difficulty when Black America says we want reinforcements, we want legislative backup, we want folks out there advocating for us is that we’ve got so many different voices speaking about so many different issues that it’s hard to get everybody on a single page, but let’s make no mistake. We have plenty of organizations that have stood in the gap and advocated for Black America over the last 50, 60, 70 years. Now, whether or not they have advocated for a singular item on the Black agenda is certainly a question. And I think it’s important to note, money is very important in congressional politics, in presidential politics. Absolutely. But what’s more important for the people who are serving in these roles are votes. And I think the difficulty again, is that a lobbying organization says, let’s take all the points of contact we have and let’s apply them at a single point so that we can be heard and felt.

Jamarlin Martin: Let’s continue on AIPAC. So AIPAC, a lot of people don’t know this, but they recruit at HBCUs. They’re looking for future political stars, like Bakari Sellers. They have a particular profile and they send the Black college student to Israel. And many people believe that they are giving that Black college student a point of view that’s pro-Israel, that’s Zionist in scope. Okay. And so in reading some of the interviews with the Black students who have been sponsored to go to Israel, they say, “Man, I got to meet Netanyahu. And they hooked me up with this and they hooked me up with that.” Now, if the AIPAC group has a $100 million budget, but other groups, the Palestinians, they don’t have a budget, right? Some of the Black groups, radical groups or pro-Africa groups, they don’t have a budget. AIPAC does have a budget, right? And so if they’re going to be well organized and have a big wallet on HBCU campuses, wouldn’t that lead to an imbalanced point of view for Black people in America as relates to issues in the Middle East. And that’s where we get into the swamp, where people, particularly disenfranchised groups or poorer groups, that if the Jews in America, Jewish Americans, if they have a much bigger wallet on average net-net than black America, they have the luxury where we don’t necessarily have them focus on domestic issues. We’re good in terms of relatively speaking. So because we’re good on the domestic front, we’re going to focus a lot of the attention and our resources on the international scene.

Howard Franklin: So let me just say you’re telling me things that I don’t know to be true. So I never heard and I wasn’t recruited. I wasn’t invited on a trip to Israel from…

Jamarlin Martin: Come on, man. You’re AIPACing.

Howard Franklin: No. Seriously. So I went to Israel in 2011 and we actually got a diversity of views from Palestinians and Israelis on the ground. It was not some, but again, you’ve got your own experience and I’m sure it’s informed by other people who’ve been there. Let me just say this…

Jamarlin Martin: But I mean if AIPAC sends you and Bakari over there, you’re not going to say that they gave you an even point of view about that.

28:13 —Howard Franklin: Again, we’re adults, right? We have plenty of time to go out, forge our own relationships. I had friends of mine who have nothing to do with AIPAC who were already in Jerusalem, who I got to hook up with and hangout with while I was there. So it wasn’t as if, Bakari who had served in the legislature, me, who had been a lobbyist, who had been operating in politics, was completely out there being force-fed whatever was given to me. I think that’s that same perspective. It’s tough for me to swallow when I think about my experience with Morehouse College. You could send me anywhere, I’ve been to a bunch of different places. I’ve been on State Department trips at the behest of Hillary Clinton. Right. But her politics at that point in my career and in my life couldn’t be foisted upon me in such a way that I was unable to grasp anything else. If you are Morehouse College or Howard University or Spelman, etc, you’re already developing a worldview, right? You’re there because you want to develop a worldview. I don’t think you can just take a six day junket and then say, I’ve been brainwashed and my entire perspective is different. But I will acknowledge something you’re saying. I hadn’t really given serious consideration to the other part of the world until I visited it. Right? So to the point you made about, again, the Black American agenda, that’s what I was focused on. I’m like, “Hey, let’s worry about domestic issues that we can address.” And by the way, we got $1 trillion in collective spending, right? So if you say that we don’t have a budget, I just say maybe we haven’t prioritized engaging at the government level, right? But we have plenty of organizations that collect millions of dollars every year. Put on big confabs. I go to Black caucus every year. I go to the National Caucus of State Black Legislators. I think what’s missing is a more pronounced and articulated Black agenda that people like me can get onto and support. It’s not a juxtaposition.

Jamarlin Martin: So you make a good point. However, this is where I deviate from the Black consensus, is that groups like AIPAC and the lobbyists and the design of the monopoly board, the swamp that I would call the swamp, your Black agenda has to navigate the monopoly board, the swamp in terms of the lobbyists. Eric Schmidt, of course he’s out saying that, hey, the lobbyist that we pay, they write the laws and they’re highly influential in the laws. So the design of the monopoly board and the swamp, the Black agenda has to go through those pipes. So if AIPAC has an inordinate amount of control over the Black politicians, you could see very healthy legislation that’s in our people’s interests being diluted, being weighed down. And so AIPAC, other special interest groups, lobbyists that that Black agenda needs to go through a pipe, right? It needs to go across and around the monopoly board. So what the lobbyists and AIPAC and all these people are doing, you’re going to have to confront that. And I believe my thesis would be that if you confront the swamp and how the system is gamed and rigged and diluted by lobbyists and special interest groups, that the Black agenda is going to move faster. We have to organize, we have to put it together, we have to move it. But that thing is going to move faster if you confront this big beast in the swamp.

31:48 — Howard Franklin: I’m gonna say two things to that. One, all the money, all the lobbyists, all the campaign contributions or the television commercials don’t amount to one thing that is the trump card, pardon my French, which is the vote, right? Every elected member of a Congress or a state legislature or city hall or any other jurisdiction, they have one goal first and foremost. And that is to return to office when the voters make a decision. And so to the extent that all these other things are in the way, and I acknowledged him, I think you still, I think where the Black American agenda can rise above all these other things that are happening is to say, here’s who we’re going to back for president. Right? And if that person’s got to have some degree of ideological purity or some degree of a priority for the issues that we think are most important, right? And all the money in the world is not going to save a politician or a lobbying organization that isn’t in line with a group of people who say, “We are voting for our future.” Alright. But I’m gonna say one of the things about AIPAC that you mentioned, when AIPAC and the ancillary organizations approached me, the way it was couched was reconnecting the historical alliance between Blacks and Jews that was forged through the civil rights movement. You would surprise me if you could tell me one piece of legislation that AIPAC or any of the affiliates have advocated for that has been anti the Black agenda. The entirety of my knowledge as it relates to congressional politics has been safety and security for the state of Israel. It’s been really allocating funding…

Jamarlin Martin: That’s what you’re advocating for?

Howard Franklin: No, no.

Jamarlin Martin: Oh, you’re not saying that.

Howard Franklin: I’m just telling you that as someone who’s learned in this space, who has some relationships in his space, if you told me that the companies or other organizations took policies as it related to privacy, etc, that were anti or against the Black agenda, we could debate that. I’ve yet to see AIPAC get behind a piece of legislation in America, which is what I’m concerned about, that would be antithetical to what I believe a Black agenda should include.

Jamarlin Martin: Okay, so let’s go there. You’ve opened up a can of worms. I was trying to protect you and not to go too far into AIPAC. Let’s talk about this. AIPAC and its affiliates, they banged against Barack Obama when all Barack Obama wanted to do is establish peace with Iran. Okay. So Barack Obama said, “Hey, there’s all these forces outside of the United States that’s pushing the United States and those Black and brown troops to go to war with Iran.” Barack Obama stood up to AIPAC, he stood up to Netanyahu.

Howard Franklin: And then congress invited him to speak behind his back.

Jamarlin Martin: And they disrespected him. AIPAC put money down to stop Barack Obama in trying to get a peace deal with Iran. So Netanyahu, who is, let’s call it an AIPAC affiliate. He disrespected Obama. The Congressional Black Caucus didn’t like the disrespect that Netanyahu was showing Obama. Many believe, that I’ve talked to in south Florida, our brother Andrew Gillum, who I support, he lost by around 50,000 votes or 52,000 votes. There was a report in Politico that I read, that Gillum underperformed in Jewish districts in Florida, and Desantis, MAGA and you have some fanatical a AIPAC members where if you don’t ride with us, we’ll blow this whole thing up. We’re voting Republican. Look Negro, if you don’t get in line with this one focus on Israel, we will not vote Democrat. We will vote Republican. Okay. So some believe, we don’t know for sure, that the AIPAC voter stopped Gillum because of fears he was not hard-line pro Israel. So I gave you two examples…

36:32 —Howard Franklin: Neither of which has anything to do with AIPAC as an organization or domestic policy. Let’s imagine…

Jamarlin Martin: You don’t think that a lot of these Florida voters are members?

Howard Franklin: I think any affiliation could be spun as anything. I don’t want to make… We’ve got a Morehouse brother who ran for president, is now up for federal board chairman or a board seat. I’m not going to go on television or on a podcast on radio and defend him because we happen to have the same alma mater. He has the ability and the right to advocate for whatever he wants. And I think that what we’ve got to keep in mind here is that the ability to advocate is enshrined in the constitution, the first amendment. So I think we’ve got to figure out how to play the game, not to say that the game is rigged and we won’t play.

Jamarlin Martin: Absolutely not. So if you’re telling me that Cory Booker, who’s an AIPAC favorite, right? And Bakari Sellers, who’s on the national board of AIPAC, that when our politicians come up, they fill a need because they can’t get money in other places. They can’t get support in other places. They’re desperate. And so AIPAC, but hold on, let me finish.

Howard Franklin: I don’t know if I can agree with the premise of the question.

Jamarlin Martin: Yeah, you can disagree, but what I’m saying is that AIPAC will connect with Kamala Harris. They will connect with Cory Booker. It will sponsor Bakari Sellers and these people have in their mind, the game has always worked like this. You gotta go kiss the ring to AIPAC. That’s how the game has worked. We didn’t set the game up, but we got to play it. Other people are playing it. We got to play the game and I’m telling you that that game is going out the door and you see the Democratic Party moving to the left where you got to kiss the ring at AIPAC. You’ve got to follow AIPAC. You’ve got to vote AIPAC. You’ve got to get the money. That stuff is going out the door.

Howard Franklin: There are 14,000 registered lobbyists in Washington D.C.. AIPAC is not even the biggest spender of them. Right? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a big spender.

Jamarlin Martin: It can’t be measured by money.

Howard Franklin: Well, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say that these guys have to go play the game and go get the money, but then don’t count the money when you bring the facts in.

Jamarlin Martin: The money is a factor, but AIPAC…

39:02 —Howard Franklin: Let me make a different point. My point isn’t that anything you said is wrong. I don’t know it to be true, but I don’t believe it’s wrong. Right. I don’t know Cory Booker. I can’t speak for whose backed him, etc. I don’t believe that when he ran for Newark City Council and then for mayor, he was on folks’ radar and that’s how he won those elections. Right. I have friends who were in those spaces and I think there are plenty of other stakeholders that powered his electoral success. Maybe when you get to the point where you’re on the U.S. Senate, then you’re on everybody’s radar. I don’t know, but I will say this, I think you made a really important point, which is that Black leaders need resources. Every campaign is driven by three resources, people, time and money. That’s all you got in any campaign from dog catcher to president. The challenge that I think you’re underscoring and rightly so, is that when you’ve got a community that wants to support a leader, but they’ve got a deficit of any of those things, that other organizations come in and fill that void, right? You’re saying, Black folks should be able to say, “Cory Booker, we’re going to tell you whether or not you can be president and it’s going to be up to us.” We’re going to provide you with the manpower or the dollars or the connectivity or the worldview that should shape the decisions you make in the White House, should you succeed. But if we fall short on one or two or three of those things, then you’re saying someone else swoops in, and my point is to say, well, let’s not fall short on those things because there’s always going to be someone to swoop in.

Jamarlin Martin: This is part one. Tune in to the next episode for part two. Thanks everybody for listening to GHOGH. You can check me out @JamarlinMartin on Twitter and also come check us out at Moguldom.com. That’s M O G U L D O M.com. Be sure to subscribe to our daily newsletter. You can get the latest information on crypto, tech, economic empowerment and politics. Let’s GHOGH!