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Lobbying: What It Is and Why it’s Important to Bring Positive Change

Seeking to influence a politician or public official on an issue

Lobbying: What It Is and Why it’s Important to Bring Positive Change

Lobbying is a federal legal activity that involves bringing congressional changes by using political influence to bring about productive legislation. According to an OpenSecrets analysis that covers the first half of this year, it’s reported that lobbyists received over $2 billion. Lobbying in 2022 is projected to receive an unprecedented record-breaking amount of money. The number of active lobbyists (11,441) during the first two quarters of 2022 is also the highest ever since 2012.

What is Lobbying Exactly?

The Act of lobbying is sometimes misinterpreted as bribery. This is not the case. Lobbying is a legal practice performed by organizations or individuals whereby public campaigns are launched to pressure the government into taking action to change specific public policies. These campaigns are legal since they’re legally registered with the government. Lobbying is also legal as it’s an extension of the Constitution as all Americans have the right to participate in our democracy:

The Protection of the First Amendment

Many of our rights as Americans are protected by the First Amendment. This amendment gives the right to all citizens to lobby. While the amendment never explicitly uses the term ‘lobby,’ it does include ‘the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. This specific notation, therefore, allows us the right to lobby, which also makes it legally protected by the US Constitution.

The Lobbying Disclosure Act

The Lobbying Disclosure Act was signed in 1995 signed into law by President Clinton and amended by the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 requires that all active lobbyists file quarterly reports with the Clerk of the US Secretary of US State and the House of Representatives.

The Act defines what a lobbyist is, the required registration of the lobbying campaign, what lobbyists should consist of, and what responsibilities and requirements lobbyists must comply with. The Act provides conditions for penalties should a lobbyist not comply, and it allows the public to assess any inappropriate influences that may affect the outcome of a lobbying campaign.

Why Is It Important?

Lobbying is crucial to establishing a productive government that considers all Americans’ interests. The lobbying process gives every citizen access to legislators and allows individual interests to gain a voice. It creates power in numbers and acts as an educational tool for all.

Access to Legislators

Lobbying gives citizens access to legislators in the government. No single individual can hope to achieve such a remarkable impact. By lobbying, the interests of many will be heard. The government is forced to recognize it and is more likely to address a lobby’s concerns since many people support it.

Creates Power in Numbers

A lobbyist’s purpose is to accumulate the interests and concerns of as many citizens as possible. Anyone can have a cause, but a cause is more powerful when many constituents support it. Congress is presented with more than 10,000 bills over a two-year period, and the chances of a single voice being heard or actioned upon is zero.

Educational Tool

Lobbyists must complete a massive amount of fact-checking and research to develop and improve their arguments. In doing this, the government and citizens are made aware of shortcomings in legislation as it’s brought to their attention. Researchers are tasked to bring the most thorough expertise, reports, and arguments to lobby an interest or a concern. 

Sources

https://lobbyingdisclosure.house.gov/#:~:text=January%202022,-Quarterly%20Report%20Filing&text=Report%20Filing%20Reminder-,The%20Lobbying%20Disclosure%20Act%20of%201995%2C%20as%20amended%20by%20the,Secretary%20of%20the%20U.S.%20Senate.

https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2022/08/federal-lobbying-spending-on-track-to-set-new-record-in-2022/

https://www.ncsl.org/research/ethics/50-state-chart-lobby-definitions.aspx

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