Lobbying

Imagine this: You want to go to your friend’s party, but your parents aren’t so eager to let you go. Or, maybe, you want them to increase your curfew to spend more time with your friends, but it took some convincing for them to agree.

Get started Sign up for free
Lobbying Lobbying

Create learning materials about Lobbying with our free learning app!

  • Instand access to millions of learning materials
  • Flashcards, notes, mock-exams and more
  • Everything you need to ace your exams
Create a free account

Millions of flashcards designed to help you ace your studies

Sign up for free

Convert documents into flashcards for free with AI!

Table of contents

    In the end, they let you, but how did you influence their decision? Did you mention how all your friends had permission? Or did you build a case, presenting them with all the facts on why it's the best decision for you?

    That's lobbying. Do you want to know how that applies to all political aspects? Let's dive in!

    Lobbying Definition

    You can engage in political participation in many ways, one of them being through lobbying. Many individuals or interest groups use lobbying to influence laws, government decisions, and political outcomes that define their day-to-day lives to support issues that affect them.

    Lobbying is the lawful activity that influences political decisions and public officials in the policies and decisions they make to benefit the larger groups.

    Many people can do lobbying, including:

    1. Private individuals

    2. Corporations

    3. Interest groups

    4. Government officials

    You can read our explanation of Interest Groups to know more about them!

    However, some professional lobbyists do their business by trying to influence legislation and government actions on behalf of their clients and can work with individuals and non-profit organizations to achieve their goals.

    A lobbyist is a person employed or has a contract, to influence another person or a governmental entity on behalf of their employers

    According to the Lobbying Disclosure Act, a lobbyist is an employee that makes contact with lobbying purposes and spends more than 20 per cent of their time in lobbying activities. They must register their lobbyist status with the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Secretary of the U.S. Senate.

    You probably heard of Facebook (now it's called Meta). In 2020, they spent more than $5.4 million hiring lobbyist firms to advocate for legislation that will benefit them in the topics of blockchain, content moderation, and data analysis.1

    Types of Lobbying

    Lobbying can happen by directly reaching a legislator to influence their decision or by indirect pressure on legislators. There's also a type of lobbying that occurs only during the election period. Let's read more about them:

    Direct Lobbying

    Direct lobbying is the Act of influencing, or trying to influence, decisions by appealing directly to the officials who enact those decisions. For example, when a lobbying firm directly communicates with a congress member to make a decision that will benefit the company that hired them.

    Direct lobbying can include meetings, phone calls, or direct communication with policymakers about a specific issue to achieve their goals. They accomplish this by building a professional relationship with the policymaker and explaining the problem at hand, giving them quality information to build credibility on the issue and provide assistance to make it possible.

    During the first months of 2022, the oil industry spent $12.4 million on lobbying directly to legislators to mitigate the consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As a result, more than 20 senators signed a letter recommending to President Biden different changes that affect energy policies2.

    Electoral Lobbying

    Electoral lobbying happens when a group or an individual funds or directs resources to a candidate's electoral campaign that favors their interest. This doesn't mean that if they win and hold public office, they will make decisions in favor of them. However, they fund their campaign efforts hoping they make decisions to honor the donor's interests.

    Lobbying Trump’s 2020 Presidential Campaign Electoral lobbying StudySmarterFig. 1 – Donald Trump's 2020 Presidential Campaign.

    In 2020, the NRA spent millions supporting Donald Trump's electoral campaign in hopes he would favor political decisions that protected their interests.3

    But electoral lobbying doesn't happen only with presidential campaigns. It can also help congresspeople in their campaign finance, governors, and mayors at a state level. Electoral lobbying is a way for them to raise financial support through fundraisers, donations, and PACs.

    A Political Action Committee (PAC) is an organization that raises funds to support or against electoral campaigns. It is a form of Campaign Finance.

    Electoral lobbying is a solution many electoral candidates seek to fund complex and expensive political campaigns. In return, they have the elected official's support once and if they reach public office.

    Due to this, electoral lobbying is one of the most influential types of lobbying in the United States, with a significant impact on the legislation and decisions of public officers during their tenure. Due to ethics, no elected official can publicly say the decisions they make are affected by this. Still, the compromise with their donors is expected to hold after they are elected.

    Even though Donald Trump lost the last presidential election, he has been outspoken in his support of the NRA.

    Indirect or Grassroots Lobbying

    Lobbying Black Lives Matter Types of Lobbying StudySmarterFig. 2 – Black Lives Matter.

    Grassroots, or indirect lobbying, relies on mass actions by a community impacted by the issue to influence policy. Instead of going to policymakers directly, they engage with the community, so they can contact government officials to influence their decision.

    Non-profit organizations usually do this or interest groups that can approach government officials directly, either for lack of means or because the issue will be better heard from the large community.

    They use tools such as the internet, social media, online petitions, and public gatherings to bring awareness about a particular issue and educate the community on what needs to be changed.

    Black Lives Matter is a significant global social movement, with a large US presence, challenging and fighting racism. It's also one of the most notable examples of grassroots lobbying. They have successfully lobbied for police reform in several states using protests and social media.

    Government Lobbying

    Lobbying benefits the government in many ways. They facilitate the communication and interests of the public and public officiants and help them shed light on what the general public needs in ways they wouldn't know without the noise lobbying can make.

    Elected officials must make decisions on behalf of others and work toward their constituents' interests. A conflict of interest exists if elected officials find themselves in a situation where they benefit from a specific law or decision. That's why there's a very thin line between lobbying and bribery, which can negatively impact the government.

    Bribery happens when a person holding public office receives or solicits a valuable item in change for their decision. Lobbying has been misunderstood as bribery.

    To avoid this, lobbying is regulated by law. The main difference between bribery and lobbying is that while lobbying tries to communicate an intention with a political output, bribery is a form of political corruption where exchanging anything valuable ensures that a political outcome is accomplished.

    In 2006, a corruption case by the FBI was held against William J. Jefferson, a Louisiana representative, on charges of accepting bribes from 2000 to 2005. He was found guilty and sentenced to 13 years for these charges.4

    To avoid this, governments often regulate what lobbying is and how it can be done to prevent political corruption and promote transparency.

    Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995

    The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (LDA)5 was a United States legislation that aimed to hold accountable federal lobbying practices. It was the first law that regulated lobbying in the United States, and that defined what are lobbying practices.

    The LDA applied only to the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. It didn’t regulate state and local lobbying.

    One of the main contributions of the Act was the required registration of lobbying activities, what issues were lobbied, who individual lobbyists were, and the lobbying costs. Due to the ethical controversies of lobbying and its impact on the political system, it was necessary to regulate lobbying activities to increase the accountability of lobbying actors and transparency in the decision-making process of public officiants. Thanks to the regulations of the law, lobbyists now have to be registered to keep transparency in public decisions.

    According to the LDA, a lobbyist is an individual that makes more than one lobbying contract and spends more than 20% of their time on federal lobbying activities.

    An important note is that it provided an exception for employees that lobbied on behalf of the organization that employs them. But, those organizations or associations needed to register on behalf of those employees.

    According to the Act, lobbying activities are the actions (planning, preparation, coordination, and research) taken in support of a lobbying contact, and they were required to register the amount expended in all activities that supported lobbying, not including grassroots lobbying.

    Whereas lobbying contact is the written communication with any legislative or executive official regarding federal legislation, federal program or policy, and nomination or confirmation of anyone who needs Senate confirmation. Except for communications that by law need to be confidential, administrative requests, testimony before congress, and legally compelled communications.

    This law was amended by the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007

    Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007

    This important law6 amended parts of the LDA 1995. It strengthened the requirements for public disclosure on lobbying activities and funding.

    In contrast with the LDA, this Act regulated grassroots lobbying, as they now have to follow the spending restrictions by the Public Charity Lobbying Law.

    The Public Charity Lobbying Law aimed to protect non-profits from losing their status due to spending, allowing them to spend only 5% of their revenue on lobbying.7

    One of the main changes was regulating the gifts a lobbyist could give to public officers. One of the ways to achieve this was by requesting a certification that they read and understood the Standing Rules of the Senate and the Rules of the House of Representatives.

    Revolving Door

    The revolving door is a metaphor used in government to explain the movements of someone who holds public office to the private sector, and vice versa, when their positions correlate in industry. In most cases, this happens between public officiants who turn into lobbyists or lobbyists who turn into public officers.

    Lynn Jenkins was a representative of Kansas holding public office from 1999 to 2019 when she created her lobbying firm L.J. Strategies before her last tenure ended.8

    Lobbying Lynn Jenkins government lobbying StudySmarterFig. 3– Lynn Jenkins, Office of Congresswoman.

    Critics9 of the revolving door argue that revolving door lobbyists can take advantage of their connection and knowledge or advocate for legislation that supports their future employees before they make a move, endangering the transparency of U.S. democracy.

    Billy Tauzin was a Congressman who oversaw the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, a controversial law that favored the pharmaceutical industry. Two months later, he resigned his seat to accept a job as head of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a group of lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry.10

    Lobbying - Key takeaways

    • Lobbying is the lawful activity that influences political decisions and public officials in the policies and decisions they make to benefit the larger groups.
    • There are three types of lobbying: Direct Lobbying by appealing directly to public officials; grassroots lobbying, which relies on mass actions done by a community impacted by the issue to influence policy; and electoral lobbying when a group or individual funds or directs resources to a candidate's electoral campaign that favor their interest.
    • The difference between bribery and lobbying is that while lobbying tries to communicate an intention with a political output, bribery is a form of political corruption where exchanging anything valuable ensures that a political outcome is accomplished.
    • The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 was a United States legislation that aimed to hold accountable federal lobbying practices. It was the first law that regulated lobbying in the United States, and that defined what are lobbying practices.
    • The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 amended parts of the LDA 1995. It strengthened the requirements for public disclosure on lobbying activities and funding.

    References

    1. BIRNBAUM, “Facebook Lobbying Spending.”
    2. Cloutier, “Top Oil and Gas Companies Increase Lobbying Spending amid Global Energy Crisis.”
    3. Government, “Browse Independent Expenditures - FEC.Gov.”
    4. Federal Bureau of Investigations. Famous Cases.
    5. “S.1060 - 104th Congress (1995-1996): Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.”
    6. “H.R.2316 - 110th Congress (2007-2008): Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007.”
    7. “Lobbying | Internal Revenue Service.”
    8. Rep. Lynn Jenkins Registers Lobbying Firm before Term Ends | AP News
    9. Zibel, “Nearly Two Thirds of Former Members of 115th Congress Working Outside Politics and Government Have Picked Up Lobbying or Strategic Consulting Jobs.”
    10. M. Welch, “Tauzin Switches Sides from Drug Industry Overseer to Lobbyist.”
    11. Fig. 1 – Oak Grove Louisiana Trump Train Sign 2020 (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/25/Oak_Grove_Louisiana_Trump_Train_Sign_2020_photographed_by_Highsmith.jpg) by Carol Highsmith (https://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/highsm/) licensed by Library of Congress-no known copyright restrictions (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Library_of_Congress-no_known_copyright_restrictions).
    12. Fig. 2 – Black Lives Matter (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/35/Black_Lives_Matter.jpg) by John Lucia (https://www.flickr.com/photos/studioseiko/27950807420/) licensed by CC-BY-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en).
    13. Fig. 3 – Lynn Jenkins 2010 (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9b/Lynn_Jenkins_2010.jpg) by Office of Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (http://lynnjenkins.house.gov/uploads/Official.jpg) licensed by PD US Congress (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Licensing#Material_in_the_public_domain).
    Frequently Asked Questions about Lobbying

    How does lobbying negatively affect the government?

    When a conflict of interest exists, the possibility of bribery negatively impacts the government.

    What is an example of lobbying?

    In 2020, Facebook spent more than $5.4 million hiring lobbyist firms to advocate for legislation that will benefit them in blockchain, content moderation, and data analysis.

    What does it mean when someone is lobbying?

    When someone, or a movement, takes actions that influence political decisions and public officials in the policies and decisions they make to benefit the larger groups.

    What are the 3 main types of lobbying?

    Direct lobbying, grassroots lobbying, and electoral lobbying.

    How does lobbying benefit the government?

    They facilitate the communication and interests of the public and public officiants and help them shed light on the general needs in ways they wouldn't know without the noise lobbying can make.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    What are two types of lobbying?

    What is an example of grassroots lobbying?

    What is the difference between lobbying and bribery?

    Next

    Discover learning materials with the free StudySmarter app

    Sign up for free
    1
    About StudySmarter

    StudySmarter is a globally recognized educational technology company, offering a holistic learning platform designed for students of all ages and educational levels. Our platform provides learning support for a wide range of subjects, including STEM, Social Sciences, and Languages and also helps students to successfully master various tests and exams worldwide, such as GCSE, A Level, SAT, ACT, Abitur, and more. We offer an extensive library of learning materials, including interactive flashcards, comprehensive textbook solutions, and detailed explanations. The cutting-edge technology and tools we provide help students create their own learning materials. StudySmarter’s content is not only expert-verified but also regularly updated to ensure accuracy and relevance.

    Learn more
    StudySmarter Editorial Team

    Team Politics Teachers

    • 12 minutes reading time
    • Checked by StudySmarter Editorial Team
    Save Explanation Save Explanation

    Study anywhere. Anytime.Across all devices.

    Sign-up for free

    Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.

    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App

    The first learning app that truly has everything you need to ace your exams in one place

    • Flashcards & Quizzes
    • AI Study Assistant
    • Study Planner
    • Mock-Exams
    • Smart Note-Taking
    Join over 22 million students in learning with our StudySmarter App
    Sign up with Email

    Get unlimited access with a free StudySmarter account.

    • Instant access to millions of learning materials.
    • Flashcards, notes, mock-exams, AI tools and more.
    • Everything you need to ace your exams.
    Second Popup Banner