TCU hired LobbyIt this month to lobby for its interests on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
According to an email from Chancellor Victor Boschini, the university will partner with the firm for two years and then re-evaluate the plan.
LobbyIt founder and president Paul Kanitra said the firm’s goal is to “help provide an affordable and accountable alternative to traditional lobbying firms,” which normally overprice clients while failing to provide compensation.
“Our firm was founded to give everybody a voice and make sure everybody has a presence before Congress, federal agencies and administration,” Kanitra said.
Senior lobbyist Nile Elam said Kanitra and he met with Boschini and the chancellor’s intern Michael Marshall six weeks ago in Washington, D.C. to pitch the idea.
“The Chancellor and Mike had an interest in lobbying and trying to raise TCU’s profile,” Elam said. “I think in the grand scheme of TCU’s future, we’re growing away from a regional university to a national university.”
Elam (‘10) and Kanitra (‘01) are both alumni, which made partnering with the university a given because of their love for the school.
“We really have an idea for what the university is,” he said. “We’re going to work really hard simply because that’s our alma mater, and we have way too much purple memorabilia in our office as it is. It’s great to say that we’re working with TCU.”
Boschini said he hopes having alumni work for LobbyIt will be an advantage since they already understand the TCU culture.
The LobbyIt website features different tiers for pricing, ranging from $995 per month to $4,995 per month. Boschini wrote that TCU chose the $2,995 per month tier with an added option to cease as long as TCU gives LobbyIt a seven-days notice.
Kanitra said affordable pricing is one of the key aspects of his firm’s “unique business model.”
“TCU is paying a fraction of what traditional lobbying firms are charging for this type of work,” he said. “If you look at lobbying disclosures across the nation, there are lots of universities that are paying $10,000, $15,000, to $20,000 a month for just the privilege of having a voice on top of Capitol Hill.”
Boschini said he liked how the business plan gave TCU a monthly contract instead of binding the university to a long-term commitment. The LobbyIt payments will come from tuition money since students are the “stakeholders in everything TCU does.”
Although Boschini said he is not certain of the plan’s outcome, he hopes it will result in two things – increased visibility and awareness of what students, faculty and staff need, as well as more federal funding for various campus-based programs and ideas.
Meanwhile, Kanitra said the relationship would give TCU many opportunities.
“We’re going to be able to showcase a lot of the great research and a lot of the great work and unique programs that are going on at TCU,” he said. “Additionally, we’re going to be monitoring the grant and student loan space and the financial aspects of just being a student.”