Try the fastest way to create flashcards

CH 19 Public Opinion and INTEREST GROUPS CH 19, Lesson 4: Affecting Public Policy

Get a hint
Click the card to flip 👆
1 / 24
1 / 24
Terms in this set (24)
Interest groups seek to influence public policy wherever it is made - in all branches of government and at all levels.
They use many strategies to achieve their goals from using advertising to create public support for their causes to suing in court or seeking a constitutional amendment.
Meeting with elected officials to persuade them to make certain laws or policies is a way interest groups influence public policy.
This direct contract is lobbying because if the practice of approaching senators and representatives in the lobby of a capitol building.
work to influence legislators at all levels of government - federal, state, and local.
Sometimes the most effective way to reach lawmakers is through their staff, so lobbyists cultivate good relationships with the people who work for elected officials.
Lobbyists also seek to influence government officials in the executive branch, like the president, governors, and employees at the state and federal agencies and regulatory bodies.
Lobbying is one of the most commonly used and effective techniques used by interest groups to bring about laws and policies they seek.
One of the most important ways that lobbyists make their cases is by providing government officials and their staff with facts and data about the policy that interest groups want enacted.
When they do this, lobbyists will often try to meet face to face with members of Congress and other government officials (at the Capitol in a member's office over lunch or golf). The information lobbyists provide legislators comes in many forms - pamphlets, reports, and statistical and trend data.
Lobbyists may pay for lunch or give government officials something else of value.
Congressional rules restrict gifts that lobbyists can give to federal lawmakers.
Senators and their staff can't accept any gift (including meals & entertainment) of over $50 from a lobbyist.
The Senate & House also have $100 limits on gifts from any single-source.
IN 2009, Obama issued an executive order banning all political appointees in the executive branch from accepting any gifts from lobbyists.
Each state makes their own rules about lobbying in that state and most provide limits on the gifts lobbyists can give.
Members of Congress rely on information presented by lobbyists. Legislators realize though that lobbyists are representing a particular interest. A lobbyist who intentionally misrepresents the facts runs the risk of losing a legislator's trust and permanently losing access to him or her.
Besides personally contacting legislators and other officials, lobbyists provide information in congressional testimony.
Usually when Congress is considering a bill, various interest groups are invited to testify because of their expertise and lobbyists may testify.
For example, a representative of the oil industry might be invited to testify before a committee considering a law to tax oil profits
lobbyists and interest groups sometimes help write bills.
Many well organized interest groups have research staff who help members of Congress draft proposed laws.
Studies have shown that interest groups and their lobbyists often draft parts of or entire bills for legislation.
Lobbyists submit comments on proposed federal regulations and rules to the executive branch agencies implementing the relevant law.
Professional lobbyists must register with the government so that their professional activities can be monitored.
The goal is to prevent illegal influence on members of Congress and the executive branch. Under current law, registered lobbyists must file semiannual reports with the Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate.
These reports must reveal the issues or laws being lobbied, the government branches and agencies being contacted, and an estimate of the money the client paid the lobbyist.
These rules are part of the 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act which was intended to close loopholes in an older law that allowed most lobbyists to avoid registering with Congress.
From the late 1990s to 2007, lobbying in Washington grew quickly, but the number of active lobbyists has dropped since then slightly.
Recently, over 12,000 people were active as lobbyists. Money spent on lobbying activities - including lobbyists' salaries, political donations, and more grew dramatically, from $800M in 1996 to $3.31B in 2012.
Many are former government officials.
Generally have friends in Congress and executive branch and know the intricacies of DC politics.
Lobbying has proved to be an attractive second career for many members of Congress.
Members cash in on their connections.
In the 80's it was reported that many in Congress were cashing in on their connections, for most, public services is a mere internship for a lucrative career as a hired gun for special interests.
Congress placed a limit on how soon former senators and representatives may become lobbyists: representatives must wait one year and senators two years after retirement.
Lobbyists and often lawyers or PR experts become lobbyists quite often as well. Understanding the government and how it works is vital for lobbyists to be successful and effective.
Interest groups use the mass media to inform the public and to create support for their views.
For example, when Congress was considering immigration reform in 2013, a group started by Silicon Valley tech executives used TV advertising to support the reform bill.
Environmentalists have run TV and magazine ads to dramatize pollution and the hazards it poses, like Senior citizens advertising their views when Congress considers changes in Social Security.
Beyond Advertising, interest groups offer policy experts to civic and news organizations that cover their issues of concern. So for example, if a group organizing a town hall meeting or news program wants to showcase a pro/con discussion, interest group experts represent their views.
Digital media has offered new opportunities for seeking support and attempting to wield influence.
Almost all interest groups have websites and a presence on social media in which they spread information and try to influence policy.
They post ads supporting their views to video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Twitter to raise awareness.
Many interest groups urge their members to call, fax, or send emails to government officials to demonstrate broad support for or against a policy.
NRA can deliver hundreds of thousands of letters, emails, and phone calls from its members. The opposing group, Stop Handgun Violence can also motivate letter writers to contact policy makers.
These campaigns make officials aware of an issue, but don't always produce results. Officials may have already made up their minds on an issue.
Others take into account the views of groups on both sides of the issue.
Congressional staff report that when legislators are undecided on an issue, emails, and letters from individual citizens are more persuasive than form letters or emails sent by members of interest groups.
The public tends to believe that interest groups are well financed and carry a great deal of weight with Congress.

Several factors limit the effectiveness of interest groups. Different interest groups compete for power and influence, keeping any single group from controlling lawmakers and other public officials.

Generally the larger the group, the more diverse interests of its members are. This diversity has meant that nationally organized interest groups may be unable to adopt broad policy goals.

As a result, smaller interest groups or single-based issue interest groups - those who unite people who have narrower goals - have been most effective in shaping policy.
While large interest groups have membership that provides an impressive financial base, most interest groups struggle to pay small staff. Lately, the greatest concern about the power of interest groups has been their financial contributions to political campaigns.