Lobbyism in America

Topics: Lobbying, Political action committee, Advocacy Pages: 3 (877 words) Published: December 9, 2012
"Government of the people, by the people, for the people...," quotes Abraham Lincoln's vision from the Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863. From that place in time, America was founded on the principle of a constitutional republic, allowing all citizens the congressional rights to voice their opinions on public policy. In fact, all Americans have political advocates working for them in some form. Businesses, industries and groups with concerns that might be affected by public policies can use advocates to influence the officials who make policies. Lobbying, grassroots efforts, and political action committees are all among ways to advocate opinions and information to our government officials.

A lobbyist is a person whose job is to try to influence public officials, usually for or against a specific cause. Lobbyists are required to register with the state and federal governments, and must provide disclosure of clients and expenditures. In contrast, grassroots efforts derive most of their power and reason from common, ordinary people within a community. Designed to give an appearance of a grassroots movement, “astroturfing” is the attempt to create an impression of widespread support where little exists. Astroturfing can be considered falsely endorsing a corporate agenda or political organization. A specific type of political organization is called a political action committee (PAC). Political action committees are organized to spend money for the election or defeat of a political candidate. 

Discussions of political advocacy are in the news on an almost-daily basis. What are the controversies related to these activities? Lobbying and lobbyists regularly receive negative press coverage regarding bribery, insufficient disclosure, and “revolving-door” issues. A common controversy is that some lobbyists remain unregistered by skirting the narrow definition of a lobbyist. In class, we learned that the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 requires lobbyists to register...
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