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 - fake grassroots campaigns are known as astroturfing). A modification of the same, aimed to leaders and influential persons in the community, is known as grasstops.


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, lobbyists sometimes write legislation and whip bills.

History of the word

The term "lobbyist" was coined in 19th century in the Willard InterContinental Washington hotel, located in Washington DC, on Pennsylvania Avenue, roughly in the middle between the White House and the Congress. During that time, it was a virtually only conveniently placed site where it was possible for the politicans and White House and Congress workers, and the persons wanting to talk with them, to find shelter from the weather. President Ulysses Grant liked to use this hotel as a refuge from the White House pressure; the hotel placed a leather chair in a secluded part of the hotel lobby for him, where he could enjoy his favorite cigars and brandy in relative peace. Still, he was pestered there by would-be power brokers seeking his ear; for such people he coined the word "lobbyists".

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).

See also

External Links


fr:Lobby it:Lobbying he:שדולה nn:Lobbyverksemd pt:Lobby


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