lobbying

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lobbying,

practice and profession of influencing governmental decisions, carried out by agents who present the concerns of special interests to legislators and administrators. The term originated in the United States of the 1830s, when representatives of interest groups tended to congregate in the lobbies of Congress and state legislatures. It is now used in a broader sense to include attempts to influence any governmental actions.

In the United States lobbying has become an accepted and ubiquitous part of the political system; while federal and state legislators are technically representatives of geographical areas, they spend much of their time with lobbyists, and can be said at times to be responding to interest groups rather than to their constituents, to the degree that legislation drafted by lobbyists is sometimes introduced. Organizations such as corporations, financial institutions, labor unions, professional associations, educational groups, medical interests, farm alliances, and various public interest and social issue groups like Common Cause, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League, the National Rifle Association, and the National Coalition for the Homeless maintain permanent lobbies in Washington and in state capitals to protect and further their interests. Lobbyists often deal directly with governmental decisionmakers, supplying technical information, making political threats or promises, and supplying friendship, entertainment, and other favors. Their indirect methods include the use of the mass media and mailing and telephone campaigns (some purporting to come from the "grass roots") and the organization of campaign funding vehicles known as political action committeespolitical action committee
(PAC), U.S. organization formed by a corporation, labor union, or association to raise money for political activity. Funds can be gathered by voluntary contributions from members, employees, or shareholders.
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 (PACs).

The potential for corruption, especially bribery of officials, has given lobbying an unsavory connotation and has led to many attempts to regulate it, first at the state and later at the national level. The basic federal law has been the Regulation of Lobbying Act of 1946, which requires registration of and regular financial reports from all individuals and agents seeking to influence legislation. In 1995, Congress passed a new bill intended to strengthen registration and disclosure requirements and to include within the definition of "lobbyist" some, e.g., lawyers, who had not previously been so designated.

Bibliography

See V. O. Key, Politics, Parties and Pressure Groups (5th ed. 1964); A. M. Scott et al., Congress and Lobbies (1966); S. Farkas, Urban Lobbying (1971); G. Wooton, Interest Groups (1971); M. T. Hayes, Lobbyists and Legislators (1984); C. Barnes, The Politics of Policy-Making and Pressure Groups (1987); R. G. Kaiser, So Damn Much Money (2009).

References in periodicals archive ?
Many of the same restrictions apply to lobbying organization.
One of America's oldest Jewish lobbying organizations, the AJC has come under criticism in recent years.
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We're primarily a lobbying organization representing the interests of, first and foremost, the independent insurance agent, as well as the insurance industry," he said.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, a lobbying organization that focuses on issues important to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Americans, it is legal to fire workers based solely on their sexual orientation in 36 states.
DeStefano's top two priorities for his year as president are that NLC achieves its federal advocacy goals and that NLC is "perceived as and is in fact a stronger lobbying organization.
But in 1967 the YMBA members decided to go on their own because the MBA is really more of a national, lobbying organization.
In 1997, the Federation of Economic Organizations (Keidanren), Japan's most powerful business lobbying organization, adopted a voluntary action plan to keep CO2 emissions in 2010 to levels at or below those in 1990.
The Consejo itself is a lobbying organization," says Humberto Inzunza, the group's president and owner of a maquiladora in Tijuana.