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What it takes to become a high-powered lobbyist in North Carolina

Tom Fetzer [1]UPDATE: After this post first appeared on Tuesday afternoon, Susan Fetzer Vick sent me an email informing me that Fetzer’s wife Kathrine is currently in the hospital struggling with  pregnancy-related health issues and that this post had been sent to her by friends and had caused her great distress. Obviously, I had no idea that this was the case, am very sorry for her and wish her a speedy recovery. The purpose of this post was and is merely to call attention to the work of Fetzer Strategic Partners and, in particualar, its representation of the especially predatory corporate actor, Advance America. By way of further update, it also appears that the website for the firm — which was obviously incomplete — has been taken down.  

Hey folks, have you ever wanted to launch a career as a high-powered and well-compensated lobbyist of North Carolina state government? Have you maybe even thought about making it a career that wouldn’t place too many demands on your time and family responsibilities (and maybe even about turning it into a family business)? If so, you’ve probably wondered about how to get started what it might really take to establish yourself in this potentially lucrative and prominent career.

Well, if this sounds like you, look no further! We’ve found the person who can show you how to do it: former Raleigh mayor, U.S. Tennis Association official and state Republican Party chair Tom Fetzer.

Fetzer, as you recall, resigned from his leadership position in the state GOP a few years back citing family and financial responsibilities [2]. Today, it looks like he’s figured out a way to solve both of those problems. A glance at the lobbyist registration section of the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office [3] reveals that Fetzer already has 14 clients signed up for the 2013 legislative session, including most recently, Advance America–a giant payday lending outfit owned by a Mexican mogul who specializes in predatory loans [4]. In fact, 2013 will be the third consecutive year in which Fetzer has grown his list of lobbying clients. And last year–just his second in the business–Fetzer was voted the state’s second most influential lobbyist in the GOP-dominated state legislature [5].

To make the whole deal even sweeter, Fetzer’s firm appears to be a family affair! Also employed by Fetzer Strategic Partners [6] are Susan Fetzer Vick [7] and Katherine L. Fetzer [8]. It’s not clear from the organization’s website how these women are related to Fetzer (readers should feel free to inform us), but if the website’s any indication, there’s no real need to invest too much effort into website design for high-powered, well-connected lobbyists.  Here’s what the “About FSP” section [9] of the site has to say about the firm ( a description that sounds remarkably similar to the “Our Team” section [10] and what it says about Fetzer and his family/colleagues): 

“Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Vestibulum mattis nunc in metus fermentum nec elementum felis ultricies. Nunc at sapien enim. Vestibulum imperdiet risus sit amet metus consequat vel aliquet ipsum rhoncus. Curabitur neque neque, congue non convallis sit amet, tempus nec nisl. In scelerisque, ligula ac congue luctus, massa felis tristique metus, id auctor nisi sapien et ante. Mauris ut ligula vel nulla accumsan facilisis. Mauris sagittis neque eget nisi consectetur at lobortis mauris faucibus. Vivamus iaculis lorem vitae purus pulvinar sodales. Proin a purus ut enim auctor dignissim vitae at nisi. Curabitur nec pharetra nisl. Nulla ac neque orci, eget scelerisque massa.”

Got that? When it comes to building a high-powered lobbying firm in North Carolina, it appears that it’s not really what you know or how well you present yourself (or whether you do it at all!)– it’s who you know and how well you’re connected to the powers that be. And on that score, it would appear the Fetzer team–which just last fall helped run the Super PAC promoting far-right Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby [11]–has what it takes!

So, stay tuned in the weeks ahead as we follow the Fetzer family firm to learn more about what it takes to develop a large portfolio of high-powered lobbying clients while at the same time helping to repeal decades of progress in North Carolina public policy. It’s going to be a fascinating year!