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the theory that all interests are and should be free to compete for influence in the government. The outcome of this competition is compromise and moderation.

Interest group

individuals who organize to influence the government's programs and policies.

Direct Lobbying

paid professional representatives of the interest group meet privately with government officials to suggest legislation and to present arguments supporting their positions.

Grassroots mobilization

campaign in which a group get its membership to contact government officials in support of the group's position.

Political Action Committee (PAC)

a private group that raises and distributes funds for use in election campaigns.

Business interest groups

U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers

Professional interest groups

American Medical Association, American Bar Association

Labor interest groups

The Teamsters, UAW, AFL-CIO

Single-issue groups

interest groups that are extremely narrow and intense in focus on a particular issue. Examples include the NRA or NARAL


one technique used by interest groups that involves making official announcements to support specific candidates

Federal Election Campaign Act-1974

is a United States federal law which increased disclosure of contributions for federal campaigns, and to place legal limits on the campaign contributions.

Buckley v. Valeo

it held that restrictions on individual contributions to political campaigns and candidates did not violate the First Amendment b/c it served a government interest by guarding against unscrupulous practices


aka Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002, it essentially banned "soft money" contributions made directly to candidates and set stricter guidelines for campagin advertising

Issue Advocacy

public education appeals run by interest groups or political parties that promote a set of ideas, but do not expressly oppose or support the election of specific candidates

McConnel v. the FEC

a Supremee Court case that challenged the constitutionality of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 in that it limited a contributors freedom of speech

hard money

federally regulated campaign contributions


the practice of one donor gathering donations from many different individuals in an organization or community and presenting the sum to a campaign.


political organizations that are not regulated by the Federal Election Commission or by a state elections commission, and are not subject to the same contribution limits as PACs

soft money

funds obtained by political parties that are spent on party activities, such as get-out-the-vote drives, but not on behalf of a specific candidate. Prior to the BCRA of 2002, there was no limit placed on this type of contribution.


a group theory that argues that too many competing groups create gridlock.

elite theory

a group theory that argues that power is concentrated in the largest and richest organizations.

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