Last night, the Bryce Harlow Foundation held its annual dinner in Washington, DC. It was an honor to be there to pay tribute to this remarkable man who served four U.S. president and to hear from the two 2006 award winners. Since 1982, the foundation has awarded the Bryce Harlow Award to men and women who seek to advance business-government relations with integrity, dedication and professionalism. In these days when some lobbyists have failed to live up to these standards, it is refreshing to be reminded that most advocates are honorable and hard-working.
Here’s what President Reagan said about Harlow when he gave him the prestigious Medal of Freedom in 1981: “Counsellor to Presidents and sage observer of nearly half a century of Washington history, Bryce Harlow’s vision, integrity and persuasiveness have helped to shape his nation’s destiny as leader of the Free World. Never a candidate for elected office himself, his experience and advice have helped bring out the best in countless public servants of both parties, in the White House, in the Congress and across the nation. Bryce Harlow is a sterling example of the positive side of politics — a life spent reconciling divergent interests, serving high moral principles, and channeling the forces of public policy toward the public good.”
This year’s award winners are Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Jane Fawcett Hoover, until recently the head of the Procter & Gamble office in Washington, DC. The Secretary of Transportation, Norman Mineta, introduced Senator Inouye and the US Trade Representative, Rob Portman, introduced Ms. Hoover. Both recipients gave warm and insightful remarks and I hope the Harlow Foundation will post on their website the highlights of the event as they did last year. Senator Inouye, who began his remarks by declaring that he is proud to be an advocate for the people of Hawaii perhaps best captured what the foundation is about: raising the bar on advocacy which is the foundation of our representative government. Corporate representatives like Ms. Hoover help educate legislators about the complex world we live in and effective legislators represent their constituents best when fully knowledgeable about the issues at hand. To top it all off, the NAM table included Colleen Vivori who works at NAM in Public Affairs and who was recently a Bryce Harlow Scholar.
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