Interest Groups and Lobbying: Pursuing Political Interests in America

Interest Groups and Lobbying: Pursuing Political Interests in America

Interest Groups and Lobbying: Pursuing Political Interests in America

Interest Groups and Lobbying: Pursuing Political Interests in America

Excerpt

In 2006 a man named Jack Abramoff was sentenced to six years in federal prison for fraud and conspiracy involving the corruption of government officials (he actually served three and a half), but in the minds of most people tuning in to the congressional investigation, Abramoff was prosecuted for being a lobbyist. And they probably approved of that. Washington Post writer Jan Witold Baran, who covered the Abramoff investigation, wrote of the public’s view of lobbying, “If Shakespeare lived today, perhaps he would write, ‘First shoot all the lobbyists’” (Baran 2006). Baran, though, went on to actually defend the lobbying profession, emphasizing that most of the tens of thousands of people practicing it are ethical and honorable. That opinion was not shared by a letter to the editor in my hometown newspaper, which said of 2012 Republican Party presidential hopefuls that “the nominee will be a mere puppet for the man who is possibly the most dangerous man in America: [lobbyist] Grover Norquist…. He is much more than [the man who heads Americans for Tax Reform], however. He holds huge influence over the tea party and other ultra-conservative zealots.” A dim view of lobbying also comes from the good-government organization Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which issued a study in 2012 reporting that several once-powerful lawmakers were now lobbying for special interest groups they had helped fund with public money while still in Congress. Said the center’s executive director Melanie Sloan, “This is part of the reason why the public is so disgusted by the revolving door” (Farnam 2012b). Of course, Sloan’s detractors probably say that she is just another lobbyist herself.

Who and what are these lobbyists that the public is so disgusted with? In the 2012 Republican primary, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was accused of being one for Freddie Mac, the government-backed housing finance . . .

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