Us Lobbying Reform

1841 Words Dec 22nd, 2014 8 Pages
Since the creation of the United States government, political lobbying has played a large role in influencing the creation and modification of laws. The act of lobbying is to solicit or try to influence the votes of members of a legislative body (Dictionary.com). There has always been controversy surrounding the political lobbying system, due to the potential of corruption through bribery. Two important pieces of legislation became laws as a result of this controversy. The Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act of 1946 and the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 were created to prevent potential abuse within the political lobbying system.

The purpose of lobbying is to communicate to public officials the special interests of specific groups.
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The controversy surrounding political lobbying does not question the act of influencing public officials, but rather the ethics relating to how these public officials are influenced. It is important to distinguish the fine line between bribery and lobbying. It is illegal to bribe a public official in the United States. This would mean that an individual could not provide compensation to a public official for them to behave, or vote, in a specific manner. Lobbyists may donate money to a specific candidate’s political campaign, but they may only do so when there is no expectation that the public official will behave in a favorable way toward the lobbyist or their clients (Mackinder). Lobbyists may bring public officials, their immediate families, and staff on trips or out to dinner. While it is illegal for a lobbyist representing a corporate client from directly bringing, it is not illegal for foreign governments to sponsor for these said trips (Goldmacher). What has begun to happen is lobbyists representing corporate clients may bring public officials on these trips, if the trip is sponsored by a foreign government. The Senate Office of Public Records reported that $3.23 billion was spent on lobbying in 2013, with 12,300 registered lobbyists. Professor James Thurber, who teaches at American University, has studied congressional lobbying for over 30 years, and does not believe these figures are accurate. He believes