First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution states.

Political Influences

Expected Outcomes
To understand how lobbying works in the federal government, to include who the players are, what the issues are, and how are the winners decided.

The First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances”, which protects the lobbyist right to “influence legislation.” Much of the guidance regarding lobbying was changed from the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 with the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, to include accountability. This new law is intended to keep “House and Senate members” from accepting gifts from lobbyists or their clients, and lawmakers will have to disclose more information concerning funding for “pet projects.”

There are two different approaches when it comes to lobbying; direct or indirect lobbying. Direct lobbying is used more on the national level in Washington, D.C.; where the indirect lobbying methods is used more on the state and local levels. Meeting the elected official, or his staff, face to face is the most persuasive form of lobbying and the most “direct” form. Being able to show him/her your passion for the issue, what is at stake, and how you would like his/her position to be on that issue is crucial to your success as a lobbyist. Before this meeting can take place the lobbyist must do all his “homework” first, in order to make sure that he is well prepared. He must have knowledge of not only the subject he is passionate about, but also knowledge of whom he will be speaking with, their history of voting, and where they stand on this particular subject.

Then there is the “indirect” lobbying approach. This is referred to as the “grassroots” because the lobbyist is going to the public to influence the elected official to vote in their favor. By using the indirect lobbying approach, the lobbyist gets the citizen to write letters, call their representatives, and even have public demonstrations for their particular cause. The indirect lobbyist also sends faxes and emails, writes editorials, advertising policy positions, has fund raisers and holds public meetings to get their point across and to bring attention to their political point of view. In a Gallop Poll survey of Congress, “more than 70% rated personal letters from the constituents as having a great deal of influence on their legislative decisions” (Brown MD, J. & Evens MD, R. 2000). There is much more time and effort involved in using indirect lobbying compared to direct lobbying.

Lobbyists may also use a legal device known as amicus curiae (friend of the court), to try and influence court cases. Typical briefs are written documents filed with a court by parties to a lawsuit, amicus curiae briefs are briefs filed by people or groups who are not parties to a suit. These briefs can make the headlines and give lobbyist groups publicity. Amicus curiaes are also entered into the court records, and give additional background on the matter being decided upon.

Since 1998, almost half of the 198 members of Congress who left government registered to lobby. In 2009, President Obama signed three Presidential Memoranda and two Executive Orders and on his first day in office which restricted lobbying and governed how former members of Congress can be employed once leaving the government.

The Center for Responsive Politics reports on, a site that tracks the flow of money in Washington, that there are currently 12,000 lobbyists registered federally, down from 15,000 in 2007. The amount of money spent lobbying within the last 10 years in federal government ranges from $2 billion to $3.5 billion.

The assigned reading is almost 30 pages from the first and last chapter of the ebook Lobbying and Policy Change by Baumgartner, et al, published in 2009. It is a unique study of lobbying at the federal level resulting in a surprising, yet obvious, conclusion. They discovered that sixty percent of recent lobbying campaigns failed to change policy despite millions of dollars spent trying.

Lobbying and Policy Change: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Write essay how does lobbying work in government.

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Read Chapter 1 pp 1-24
Read Chapter 12, pp 239-243

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