Lobbying is the practice of approaching politicians in order to persuade them to support a particular aim or cause, and then to speak about it and draw attention to it. In the US this means trying to obtain the support of members of Congress or a state legislature (= people making laws at state level). In Britain lobbying involves persuading MPs or members of the House of Lords to speak in Parliament.
  Anyone can write to their MP or a member of Congress, or organize a petition about an issue, but most lobbying is now done by pressure groups or by professional lobbyists. Pressure groups work on behalf of a particular section of society or for a specific issue or cause. Many employ full-time liaison officers to develop contacts with politicians who are likely to be sympathetic. In Britain some MPs are employed by pressure groups as consultants. They have to give details of such employment in a special Register of Members’ Interests.
  Large companies use professional lobbyists to keep them informed of what is being discussed in Congress or Parliament and to try to persuade politicians to put forward their point of view in debates. In the US lobbyists provide information to politicians, sometimes by testifying (= giving evidence) before Congress. They also try to influence the way members of Congress vote, for example by persuading them that a certain policy will be popular with the people they represent. Lobbyists may try to influence politicians by inviting them to an expensive lunch or dinner in a restaurant, or to a party. There are rules limiting what gifts politicians can accept and any gifts must be reported. Some organizations have many lobbyists who are very active.
  In Britain the methods which lobbyists use to influence MPs, and the issue of whether MPs should be connected with lobbyists at all, came to public attention in 1996 when two MPs were found guilty of taking money in exchange for asking questions in Parliament. It became known as the cash for questions affair.

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Any attempt by a group or individual to influence the decisions of government.

The term originated in 19th-century efforts to influence the votes of legislators, generally in the lobby outside a legislative chamber. The effort may be a direct appeal to a decision maker in either the executive or legislative branches, or it may be indirect (e.g., through attempts to influence public opinion). It may include oral or written efforts of persuasion, campaign contributions, public-relations campaigns, research supplied to legislative committees, and formal testimony before such committees. A lobbyist may be a member of a special-interest group, a professional willing to represent any group, or a private individual. In the U.S., the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act (1946) requires that lobbyists and the groups they represent register and report contributions and expenditures.

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      any attempt by individuals or private interest groups to influence the decisions of government; in its original meaning it referred to efforts to influence the votes of legislators, generally in the lobby outside the legislative chamber. Lobbying in some form is inevitable in any political system.

      Lobbying, which has gained special attention in the United States, takes many forms. Group representatives may appear before legislative committees. Public officials may be “buttonholed” in legislative offices, hotels, or private homes. Letters may be written or telephone calls made to public officials, and campaigns may be organized for this purpose. Organizations may provide favoured candidates with money and services. Massive public-relations campaigns employing all the techniques of modern communication may be launched to influence public opinion. Extensive research into complex legislative proposals may be supplied to legislative committees by advocates of various and often conflicting interests. Substantial election campaign contributions or other assistance may be supplied to favoured legislators or executives. The persons who lobby in these ways may be full-time officials of a powerful trade or agricultural association or labour union, individual professional lobbyists with many clients who pay for their services, or ordinary citizens who take the time to state their hopes or grievances. Cities and states, consumer and environmental protection and other “public interest” groups, and various branches of the federal government also maintain staff lobbyists in the United States.

      The right “to petition the government for a redress of grievances” is protected in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The federal government and the majority of U.S. states regulate lobbying. Most laws, such as the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act (1946), require that lobbyists register and report contributions and expenditures and that groups whom they represent make similar reports. The efficacy of these laws is doubtful. Especially difficult to regulate is any kind of indirect lobbying—such as group activity designed to influence government by shaping public opinion.

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Universalium. 2010.

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