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Direct lobbying refers to attempts to influence a legislative body through direct communication with a member or employee of a legislative body, or with a government official who participates in formulating legislation, whether it be on a federal, state, or even school level.[1] In order for an action to be considered direct lobbying, the party must directly communicate the specific piece of legislature they want to influence, whether it be in-person or through some other type of information exchange. They must also propose the new position and request that their position be taken into account during the legislation process. This is different than grassroots lobbying, because, instead of using the public to enforce an opinion, direct lobbyists exploit personal ties with the legislative body they wish to impact in order to spread their influence. Most lobby firms reside in Washington DC and there are currently 12,986 lobbyist in the Washington area recorded by the Center for Responsive Politics.[2] The total amount spent on lobbying in 2010 was $3.49 Billion. [3]


Lobbying, a standard method used to influence and/or change a piece of legislation, is a common practice in all levels of legislature including the United States Congress, state legislation, and local legislation. If those lobbying do not state their position and ask for influence, it is not technically considered to be lobbying.[4] During the direct lobbying process, the individual presenting the suggestions to the legislator may choose to introduce new statistics,in the form of graphs, charts, research,etc, to inform the legislator of any recent information which may have been missed otherwise.[5] Another common use of direct lobbying is the attempt to persuade the general public about a ballot proposal, in which case the public is considered to be the legislator. Unlike grassroots lobbying, which influences the public opinion, this aspect of direct lobbying attempts to alter the legislature before it is placed on the ballot.[6] Communications regarding a ballot measure are considered direct lobbying. [7]

The most common goals of lobbyists are: [8]

  • To facilitate market entry through the adoption of new rules, or the repeal or revision of old one's.[8]
  • To remove regulatory obstacles to the growth of one's company.[8]
  • To stop others from attaining regulatory changes that would harm one's company's business or cause. [8]

According to a meta-analysis, it was discovered that direct lobbying is used along-side grassroots lobbying.[9] There is evidence that groups are much more likely to lobby directly previous allies in the organization, rather than opponents.[10] Allies are also directly lobbied if a counter lobby is brought to light.[11]

The top sectors for lobbying as of 2010 are financial, insurance, real estate with spending of $4,405,909,610 on lobbying. [12] Health is the second largest sector by spending, with $4,369,979,173 recorded in 2010. [12]

Lobbying Laws[edit]

Lobbying Disclosure Act[edit]

The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1601) was passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Clinton on December 15, 1995. [13] Under a revision done on January 1, 2006, the Act state that any lobbying entity must be registered with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The registration must occur within 45 days after the individual lobbyist makes a first plan to contact, or lobby, to the President, Vice President, or any highly ranked Federal official. Those that do not follow in accordance with the Disclosure Act are penalized. Penalties include a fine of over $50,000, and are reported to the United States Attorney, located in Washington DC. [14]

The 1976 Public Charity Lobbying Law[edit]

The Public Charity Lobbying Law gives non-profit organizations the opportunity to lobby without losing their non-profit status with the IRS. Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, non-profit organization are not allowed to use a "substantial" part of their spending on lobbying, with substantial spending accounting to about 5% of the organizations revenue.[15] Organizations must elect to use the Public Charity Law, and when doing so the spending on lobbying may increase to 20% for the first $500,000 of their annual expenditures, followed by 15% for the next $500,000, up to 1 million dollars.[15] Organizations must file a Form 5768 with the IRS to monitor the expenses of the organization. Another aspect to the elected law are the spending restrictions between grassroots lobbying and direct lobbying. No more than 20% can be spent on grassroots lobbying at any given time, while 100% of the lobbying expenditures can be on direct lobbying.

The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007[edit]

The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act is a bill that was signed on September 15, 2007 by President George W. Bush amends the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.[13] Included in the bill are certain provisions that require a semi-annual report of lobby spending by organizations, which strengthens the public awareness of lobbying. It also places restrictions on gifts for Congress members, and provides for mandatory disclosure of earmarks in expenditure bills. [16] The act puts restrictions on the revolving door in direct lobbying.

Revolving Door[edit]

Revolving door is a term used to describe the cycling of former federal employees into jobs as lobbyists while former K Street employees are pulled up into government positions.[17] Some believe this ever-present cycle to be a detriment to our system of government and an obvious path to Regulatory capture. Others, however, argue that both the government and the lobbying industry benefit greatly from the revolving door. The government seeks to fill its seats with experienced, influential candidates who are already well established in the political world, and the lobbying powerhouses of Washington, D.C. are more apt to recruit for people with substantial government experience.

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  1. ^ "'Direct' and 'Grass Roots' Lobbying Defined", IRS, accessed March 20, 2010.
  2. ^ "Number of Lobbyists in Washington". numberof. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "Lobbying Database". OpenSecrets. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  4. ^ "What is lobbying?", Glsen, accessed March 14, 2011.
  5. ^ "Lobbyist", Princeton Review, accessed March 14, 2011.
  6. ^ "Lobbying FAQ", Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, accessed March 14, 2011.
  7. ^ "Lobbying Laws". Unitedway Miami. Retrieved 8 April 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d Krasnow, Erwin (2001). FCC Lobbying: A Handbook of Insider Tips and Practical Advice. Telecommunications Reports International. 
  9. ^ Hojnacki, Marie (Nov 99). "The Who and How of Organizations' Lobbying Strategies in Committee". Journal of Politics. 61 (4): 999. Retrieved 24 March 2011.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help); Check date values in: |date=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)
  10. ^ Hojnacki, Marie (1998). "Organized Interests and the Decision of Whom to Lobby in Congress". American Political Science Review. 4. 92: 775.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help)
  11. ^ Austen-Smith, David (1992). "Competitive lobbying for a Legislator's vote". Social Choice and Welfare. 1. 38 (57): 229.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help);
  12. ^ a b "Lobbying Spending by Sector". OpenSecrets. Retrieved 8 April 2011. 
  13. ^ a b Babington, Charles (2007-09-15). "Bush Signs Lobby-Ethics Bill". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-04-08.  Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (help) Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Washington Post 2007-09-15" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  14. ^ "The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995". US Department of Labor. Retrieved 7 April 2011. 
  15. ^ a b "Section 501(c)(3) organizations". IRS. Retrieved 8 April 2011. 
  16. ^ "Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007". Common Cause. Retrieved 8 April 2011. 
  17. ^ "Revolving Door". OpenSecrets. Retrieved 14 April 2011.