Lobbying, persuasion, or interest representation is the act of attempting to influence the actions, policies, or decisions of officials in their daily life, most often or members of regulatory agencies. Lobbying is done by many types of people, associations and organized groups, including individuals in the private sector, , fellow legislators or government officials, or (interest groups). Lobbyists may be among a legislator's constituencies, meaning a voter or bloc of voters within their electoral district; they may engage in lobbying as a business. Professional lobbyists are people whose business is trying to influence legislation, regulation, or other government decisions, actions, or policies on behalf of a group or individual who hires them. Individuals and nonprofit organizations can also lobby as an act of volunteering or as a small part of their normal job. Governments often define and regulate organized group lobbying that has become influential.
Ukrainian scientist Volodymyr Nesterovych indicates that since 2005 the process of legal regulation of lobbying has accelerated significantly – more than 10 countries have adopted specific legislation on lobbying. The regulation of this political and legal phenomenon has various models that are based on the features of the national legal systems. The United States of America, Canada, Australia and Germany have extremely detailed regulation of lobbying. By contrast, France and Denmark have adopted rules of regulation of lobbying that are based on a voluntary registration. Many countries, including Britain and Japan rely on the industry-specific self-regulation of lobbying, which is based on ethical codes of lobbying unions and associations. Among other things, conducive to the spreading of the national legislative regulation of lobbying is the development of minimum international standards for the regulation of lobbying adopted by the four international organizations and supranational associations: 1) the European Union; 2) the Council of Europe; 3) the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; 4) the Commonwealth of Independent States.
The ethics and morals involved with lobbying are complicated. Lobbying can, at times, be spoken of with contempt, when the implication is that people with inordinate socioeconomic power are corrupting the law in order to serve their own interests. When people who have a duty to act on behalf of others, such as elected officials with a duty to serve their constituents' interests or more broadly the public good, can benefit by shaping the law to serve the interests of some private parties, a conflict of interest exists. Many critiques of lobbying point to the potential for conflicts of interest to lead to agent misdirection or the intentional failure of an agent with a duty to serve an employer, client, or constituent to perform those duties. The failure of government officials to serve the public interest as a consequence of lobbying by special interests who provide benefits to the official is an example of agent misdirection.Arab Lobby in the United States Handbook, 2015 edition, published by the Global Investment Center, USA ()
One story held that the term originated at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, where it was supposedly used by President Ulysses S. Grant to describe the political advocates who frequented the hotel's lobby to access Grant—who was often there in the evenings to enjoy a cigar and brandy—and would then try to buy the president drinks in an attempt to influence his political decisions. NPR - A Lobbyist by Any Other Name? - NPR discussion of Ulysses Grant and origins of the term lobbyist. Although the term may have gained more widespread currency in Washington, D.C. by virtue of this practice during the Grant Administration, the OED English cites numerous documented uses of the word well before Grant's presidency, including use in Pennsylvania as early as 1808.
The term "lobbying" also appeared in print as early as 1820:Deanna Gelak (previous president of the American League of Lobbyists) mentioned this in her book Lobbying and Advocacy: Winning Strategies, Resources, Recommendations, Ethics and Ongoing Compliance for Lobbyists and Washington Advocates, TheCapitol.Net, 2008, LobbyingAndAdvocacy.com
Lobby groups may concentrate their efforts on the legislatures, where laws are created, but may also use the judicial branch to advance their causes. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for example, filed suits in state and federal courts in the 1950s to challenge segregation laws. Their efforts resulted in the Supreme Court declaring such laws unconstitutional.
They may use a legal device known as amicus curiae, literally "friend of the court," briefs to try to influence court cases. Briefs are written documents filed with a court, typically by parties to a lawsuit. Amici curiae briefs are briefs filed by people or groups who are not parties to a suit. These briefs are entered into the court records, and give additional background on the matter being decided upon. Advocacy groups use these briefs both to share their expertise and to promote their positions.
The lobbying industry is affected by the revolving door concept, a movement of personnel between roles as legislators and regulators and the industries affected by the legislation and regulation, as the main asset for a lobbyist is contacts with and influence on government officials. This industrial climate is attractive for ex-government officials. It can also mean substantial monetary rewards for the lobbying firms and government projects and contracts in the hundreds of millions for those they represent.Timothy J. Burger, "The Lobbying Game: Why the Revolving Door Won't Close" Time (February 16, 2006). Retrieved May 12, 2011 "Revolving Door: Methodology" Center for Responsive Politics. Retrieved May 12, 2011
In 2003 there were around 15,000 lobbyists (consultants, lawyers, associations, corporations, NGOs etc.) in Brussels seeking to influence the EU’s legislation. Some 2,600 special interest groups had a permanent office in Brussels. Their distribution was roughly as follows: European trade federations (32%), consultants (20%), companies (13%), NGOs (11%), national associations (10%), regional representations (6%), international organizations (5%) and (1%), (Lehmann, 2003, pp iii). In addition to this, lobby organisations sometimes hire former EU employees (a phenomenon known as the revolving door) who possess inside knowledge of the EU institutions and policy process A report by Transparency International EU published in January 2017 analysed the career paths of former EU officials and found that 30% of Members of the European Parliament who left politics went to work for organisations on the EU lobby register after their mandate and approximately one third of Commissioners serving under Barroso took jobs in the private sector after their mandate, including for Uber, ArcelorMittal, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. These potential conflicts of interest could be avoided if a stronger ethics framework would be established at the EU level, including an independent ethics body and longer cooling-off periods for MEPs.
In the wake of the Jack Abramoff Indian lobbying scandal in Washington D.C. and the massive impact this had on the lobbying scene in the United States, the rules for lobbying in the EU—which until now consist of only a non-binding code of conduct-—may also be tightened. Green Paper on European Transparency Initiative European Commission, 2006. Retrieved September 20, 2009
Lobbying in the United States describes paid activity in which special interests hire professional advocates to argue for specific legislation in decision-making bodies such as the United States Congress. Lobbying in the United States could be seen to originate from Amendment I of the Constitution of the United States, which states: Congress shall make no law…abridging the right of the people peaceably…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Some lobbyists are now using social media to reduce the cost of traditional campaigns, and to more precisely target public officials with political messages.
A number of published studies showed lobbying expenditure is correlated with great financial returns. For example, a 2011 study of the 50 firms that spent the most on lobbying relative to their assets compared their financial performance against that of the S&P 500 in the stock market concluded that spending on lobbying was a "spectacular investment" yielding "blistering" returns comparable to a high-flying hedge fund, even despite the financial downturn of the past few years. A 2011 meta-analysis of previous research findings found a positive correlation between corporate political activity and firm performance. Finally, a 2009 study found that lobbying brought a substantial return on investment, as much as 22,000% in some cases.Raquel Meyer Alexander, Stephen W. Mazza, & Susan Scholz. (8 April 2009). " Measuring Rates of Return for Lobbying Expenditures: An Empirical Case Study of Tax Breaks for Multinational Corporations" Retrieved 7 March 2013. Major American corporations spent $345 million lobbying for just three pro-immigration bills between 2006 and 2008.
Foreign-funded lobbying efforts include those of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Pakistan, and China Lobby lobbies. In 2010 alone, foreign governments spent approximately $460 million on lobbying members of Congress and government officials." Lobbying by Foreign Countries Decreases". Roll Call. September 14, 2011.