Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lobbying is the practice of private advocacy with the goal of influencing a governing body, in order to ensure that an individual's or organization's point of view is represented in the government. A lobbyist is a person who is paid to influence legislation.
Lobbying is in many countries a regulated activity, with limits placed on how it is conducted, in an attempt to prevent political corruption. In the United States, lobbyists are required to be registered unless they represent an elected official, or an organization of elected officials, such as the National Governors Association.
Most major corporations and political interest groups do hire lobbyists to promote their interests. Think tanks aim to lobby, by means of regular releases of detailed reports and supporting research. Lobbyists in the United States target the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, and state legislatures. They may also represent their clients' or organizations' interests in dealings with federal, state, or local executive branch agencies or the courts. A separate form of lobbying, called outside lobbying or grassroots lobbying, seeks to affect the legislature or other bodies indirectly, through changing public opinion (or purporting to).
Allegations of corruption in lobbying
Lobbying is frequently performed on behalf of organizations which also make campaign contributions. This has led to allegations of corruption by opponents of some lobbying organizations.
Politicians are sometimes placed in apparently compromising positions because of their need to solicit financial contributions for their campaigns. Critics complain that they then appear to be acting in the interests of those who fund them, giving rise to talk of political corruption.
Supporters of the system respond that many politicians act in the interests of those who fund them due to common ideologies or shared local interests, and that lobbyists merely support those who agree with their positions.
Many politicians, after leaving public office, are employed as lobbyists, and are highly valued for their contacts and relationships with their former colleagues. This has led to accusations of a "revolving door" between lobbyists and public office (additionally, many lobbyists are appointed to regulatory bodies that govern their industries, thus completing the circle). Lobbyists and their supporters generally contend that they hire people with unique and valuable experience in government, and that former members of Congress and regulators are obvious sources of this experience.
In addition to trying to persuade Congressmen through donations and discussion, lobbysts sometimes write legislation and whip bills.
Lobbying in Brussels
As of 1999, the European Commission assumed the following numbers:
- approximately 3 000 special interest groups of varying types in Brussels, with up to 10 000 employees working in the lobbying sector.
- Within this total there are more than 500 European and international federations (whose constituent members belonging to national associations number more than 5 000).
- about 50 offices in Brussels representing countries, regional and local authorities
(some of which may of course participate in the institutional framework of the Community and it is only their other activities which are concerned by this communication).
- more than 200 individual firms with direct representation, and about 100 consultants (management, and public relations) with offices in Brussels and many others dealing with Community affairs.
- about 100 law firms in Belgium specializing in Community law and many more in other countries (both Member States and beyond).
- soft money
- campaign finance reform
- Henry Adams's novel Democracy (1880)
- Carl Hiaasen's novel Sick Puppy (1999)
- http://www.sourcewatch.org -- Wiki to collect information about lobbyism, formerly Disinfopedia (http://www.disinfopedia.org)
- http://www.lobbywatch.de -- Wiki collecting information about lobbyism in Germany
- http://sopr.senate.gov/ -- U.S. government searchable database of registered lobbyists
- Carmen Group Lobbying -- Lobbying site with huge collection of links, information.
- United States Foreign Agents Registration Act
- http://www.corporateeurope.org - Corporate Europe Observer
- Rules on lobbying and intergroups in the national parliaments of the Member States. Working document (1996)
- Lobbying in the European Union: current rules and practices. Working document (2003) (pdf)
- The Society of European Affairs Professionals (SEAP)
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