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Abstract: When a career public employee in a research division of the US Forest Service gets a call from a lobbyist for a coalition of environmental advocacy groups, he finds himself confronting an opportunity of which he's not sure it's right to avail himself. The lobbyist--well-versed in the specific research being undertaken by the department in which "Sammy Sockeye" works, and well aware of budget cuts affecting the quality and scope of such work--offers to "help." Her coalition would, if he agrees, exert public pressure in order to force the soon-to-be-announced federal budget to include an increase in the budget of Sammy's department. The fact that Sammy himself believes very much that the public would be better served by such a budget increase complicates the already difficult question.
Learning Objective: The case raises an ethical question about the role of advocacy and interest groups and their relationship with public employees, as well as the question of whether it is appropriate or "right" for public employees to seek to influence, or assist others in influencing, the political process.