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Lobbying (also lobby) is the act of attempting to influence decisions made by officials in the CEO meeting with a representative about a project important to his/her company, or an activist meeting with his/her legislator in an unpaid capacity). Governments often define and regulate organized group lobbying that has become influential.

The ethics and morality of lobbying are dual-edged. Lobbying is often spoken of with contempt, when the implication is that people with inordinate socioeconomic power are corrupting the law (twisting it away from fairness) 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, stand to 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. In contrast, another side of lobbying is making sure that others' interests are duly defended against others' corruption, or even simply making sure that minority interests are fairly defended against mere tyranny of the majority. For example, a medical association may lobby a legislature about increasing the restrictions in smoking prevention laws, and tobacco companies lobby to reduce them: the first regarding smoking as injurious to health and the second arguing it is part of the freedom of choice.


  • Etymology 1
  • Overview 2
  • Lobbying by country 3
    • Australia 3.1
    • European Union 3.2
      • France 3.2.1
      • Slovenia 3.2.2
      • United Kingdom 3.2.3
    • United States 3.3
    • Other countries 3.4
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Bibliography 6
  • External links 7
    • United States 7.1
    • Europe 7.2


In a report carried by the BBC, an OED lexicographer has shown that "lobbying" finds its roots in the gathering of Members of Parliament and peers in the hallways ("lobbies") of the UK Houses of Parliament before and after parliamentary debates.[1]

One now-debunked story held that the term originated at the Willard Hotel in Washington, DC, where it was supposedly used by Ulysses S. Grant to describe the political wheelers and dealers who frequented the hotel's lobby to access Grant—who was often there to enjoy a cigar and brandy—and then try to buy the president drinks in an attempt to influence his political decisions.[2] However, the OED cites numerous documented uses of the word well before Grant's administration, including in Pennsylvania (1808).[2]

The term "lobbying" also appeared in print as early as 1820:[3]

Other letters from Washington affirm, that members of the Senate, when the compromise question was to be taken in the House, were not only "lobbying about the Representatives' Chamber" but also active in endeavoring to intimidate certain weak representatives by insulting threats to dissolve the Union.
—April 1, 1820

Dictionary definitions:

  • 'Lobbying' (also 'lobby') is a form of [5][4]
  • A 'lobbyist' is a person who tries to influence legislation on behalf of a special interest or a member of a lobby.[6]


Governments often define and regulate organized group lobbying[7][8][9][10] as part of laws to prevent political corruption and by establishing transparency about possible influences by public lobby registers.

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. Amines 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.

Lobbying by country


Over the past twenty years lobbying in Australia has grown from a small industry of a few hundred employees to a multi-billion dollar per year industry. Lobbying has become a political fact of life and is now endemic in local, state, and federal government. It is not just the local councillors and state and federal politicians being lobbied. What was once the preserve of big multinational companies and at a more local level, property developers, has morphed into an industry that would employ more than 10,000 people and represent every facet of human endeavour.[11]

In Australia, lobbyists are expected to organise a pass to obtain access to the federal parliament. The Parliamentary Pass must be signed by two parliamentarians. It is administered by the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) and has the enforcement of the Criminal Code Act 1995. The Pass is valid for two years.

However, this a pass not absolutely necessary, as some lobbyists are simply signed in on the day of their visit as guests of Senators or Members. Moreover, there are some advocacy groups in Australia that can lobby without passes. For example in 1995, following the lobbying done by The Affiliated Residential Park Residents Association Incorporated (ARPRA) and other interested tenant organizations, the Government created new legislation to provide residential park residents with improved protection. The Residential Parks Act of 1996 became the operating tool for the conduct of residents and park owners alike. In 1998, following further lobbying for the legislative review and revision of the 1996 Act, the Residential Parks Act of 1998 became law.

When lobbyists visit most federal government departments, they must also sign a register.

European Union

The more political influence the European Union ("EU") gains on a global level and the more policy areas it covers, the more interesting it becomes for lobbyists. With the Enlargement of the European Union in 2004, this development has taken a further step, bringing in not only a lot more players and stakeholders but a wide range of different political cultures and traditions, as well. According to Austrian Member of the European Parliament ("MEP") Hans-Peter Martin, the value of lobby invitations and offers each individual MEP receives can reach up to €10,000 per week.[12]

In 2003 there were around 15,000 lobbyists (consultants, lawyers, associations, corporations, NGOs etc.) in think tanks (1%), (Lehmann, 2003, pp iii).[13][14]

The fragmented nature of the EU's institutional structure provides multiple channels through which organized interests may seek to influence policymaking. Lobbying takes place at the European level itself and within the existing national states. The most important institutional targets are the Commission, the Council, and the European Parliament.[15] The Commission has a monopoly on the initiative in Community decision-making. Since it has the power to draft initiatives, it makes it ideally suited as an arena for interest representation.

There are three main channels of indirect lobbying of the Council. First, lobbying groups routinely lobby the national delegations in Brussels. The second indirect means of lobbying the Council is for interest groups to lobby members of the many Council-working groups. The third means of influencing the Council is directly via national governments. As a consequence of the co-decision procedures, the European Parliament attracts attention from lobbyists who target the rapporteur and the chairman of the committee. The rapporteurs are MEPs appointed by Committees to prepare the parliament’s response to the Commission’s proposal and to those measures taken by the Parliament itself.

Lobbying in Brussels was born only in the late 1970s. Up to that time, "diplomatic lobbying" at the highest levels remained the rule. There were few lobbyists involved in the system and except for some business associations, representative offices were rarely used. The event that sparked the explosion of lobbying was the first direct election of the European Parliament in 1979. Up until then, the Parliament consisted of a complex, and companies increasingly felt the need of an expert local presence to find out what was going on in Brussels. The foundation of lobbying was therefore the need to provide information. From that developed the need to influence the process actively and effectively. The next important step in lobbying development was the Single European Act of 1986, which both created the qualified majority vote for taking decisions in the Council of the European Union (the "Council") and enhanced the role of the Parliament, again making EU legislation more complex and lobbying further more important and attractive for stakeholders.

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.[16]


In grassroots and grasstop lobbies have been organized by citizen groups, representing interests such as genetically modified organisms or the defense of civil liberties in the digital realm (see digital rights).

But there is currently no regulation at all for lobbying activities in France and, as a consequence, this practice suffers from a lack of transparency. There is no regulated access to the French institutions and no register specific to France, but there is one for the European Union[17] where French lobbyists can register themselves.[18] For example, the internal rule of the National Assembly (art. 23 and 79) forbid to members of Parliament to be linked with a particular interest. However, MPs don’t have to declare their interest and the list of MPs' assistants is not public. At last, there is no rule at all for consultation of interest groups by the Parliament and the Government. Nevertheless, a recent parliamentary initiative (motion for a resolution)[19] has been launched by several MPs so as to establish a register for representatives of interest groups and lobbyists who intend to lobby the MPs. The purpose of this initiative is to introduce standards of conduct and access to the National Assembly. Through the use of a register, these standards of conduct and access will enable the Assembly to identify and maintain a list of the representatives of interest groups who follow legislative activity and to supervise fully the access of those representatives to the National Assembly. This motion has not been adopted yet.


In Slovenia, lobbying has been regulated since 5 December 2010, when the statutory provisions of Integrity and Prevention of Corruption Act (IPCA) came into force. IPCA regulates lobbying at both the national and local levels. Commission for the Prevention of Corruption of the Republic of Slovenia is the national focal point for lobbying oversight. Commission conducts investigations into allegations of illegal lobbying and violations of lobbying regulation. Commission also issuess a decision on entry into the register and maintains the mandatory central register of lobbyists. The special feature of IPCA regarding lobbying are provisions that require government or local officials or civil servants to report all lobbying contacts, which are within the Project Transparency published on Commissions website. Lobbying is also one of the six mandatory risks which entities, obliged to draw up and implement integrity plan, are supposed to address in integrity plan of their institution.

United Kingdom

United States

K Street NW at 19th Street in Washington D.C., part of downtown Washington's maze of high-powered lobbyists and law firms.

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. It is a controversial phenomenon, often seen in a negative light by journalists and the American public, and frequently misunderstood.[20] While lobbying is subject to extensive and often complex rules which, if not followed, can lead to penalties including prison, the activity of lobbying has been interpreted by court rulings as free speech and protected by the US Constitution. Since the 1970s, lobbying activity has grown in terms of the numbers of lobbyists and the size of lobbying budgets, and has become the focus of criticism of American governance. Since lobbying rules require extensive disclosure, there is a wealth of data in the public sphere about which entities lobby, how, at whom, and for how much. The current pattern suggests much lobbying is done by corporations, although a wide variety of coalitions representing diverse groups is possible. Lobbying happens at every level of government, including federal, state, county, municipal, and even local governments. In Washington, DC, lobbying usually targets congresspersons, although there have been efforts to influence executive agency officials as well as US Supreme Court appointments. It has been the subject of academic inquiry in various fields, including economics, law, and public policy. While lobbyists number 12,000 people in Washington, DC , those with real clout number in the dozens, and a small group of firms handles much of lobbying in terms of expenditures. As an activity, lobbying takes time to learn, requires skill and sensitivity, depends on deft persuasion, and has much in common with generally non-political activities such as management consulting and public relations.

A number of published studies showed lobbying expenditures can yield great financial returns. For example, a 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.[21] A 2011 meta-analysis of previous research findings found a positive correlation between corporate political activity and firm performance.[22] Finally, a 2009 study found that lobbying brought a substantial return on investment, as much as 22,000% in some cases.[23]

Other countries

Other countries where lobbying is regulated in parliamentary bills include:

  • Canada[24]
  • Georgia (1998)
  • Hungary (2006)
  • Israel (1994)[25]
  • Lithuania (2001)
  • Poland (2005)
  • Saudi Arabia: Lobbying is a term often used to describe athletic press that is biased towards certain football teams. The Blue Lobby is the name of Alhilal's press, and The Yellow Lobby is the name of Alnasser/Alittihad's press.

See also


  1. ^ "BBC Definition of lobbying". BBC News. 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  2. ^ a b NPR - A Lobbyist by Any Other Name? - NPR discussion of Ulysses Grant and origins of the term lobbyist.
  3. ^ 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,
  4. ^ "lobbying". Merriam-Webster Dictionary.Com. 
  5. ^ "lobbying". BBC News (London). 1 October 2008. Retrieved 24 March 2010. 
  6. ^ "lobbyist". Random House Unabridged Dictionary. 2006. 
  7. ^ Non-Profit Action description of "Lobbying Versus Advocacy: Legal Definitions".
  8. ^ U.S. Senate definition of Lobbying.
  9. ^ Andrew Bounds and Marine Formentinie in Brussels, EU Lobbyists Face Tougher Regulation, Financial Times, August 16, 2007.
  10. ^ A. Paul Pross. "Lobbying - The Canadian Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  11. ^ Fitzgerald, Julian (2006). Lobbying In Australia: You Can’t Expect Anything to Change If You Don’t Speak Up. 
  12. ^ "Taming Brussels lobby". April 25, 2011. 
  13. ^ Lehman, Wilhelm (2003). "Lobbying in the European Union: current rules and practices" (PDF). Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  14. ^  
  15. ^ Kierkegaard, Sylvia (2005). "How the Cookie (almost crumbled)." Computer Law and Security Report. Vol. 21, Issue 4.
  16. ^ Green Paper on European Transparency Initiative European Commission, 2006. Retrieved September 20, 2009
  17. ^ "Pleins feux sur les lobbies dans l'UE (28 October 2009)". 2009-10-28. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  18. ^ Pseudo *. "Le lobbying passe aussi par le web (12 March 2012)". Retrieved 2013-06-20. 
  19. ^ French National Assembly : Motion for a Resolution on Lobbying (21 November 2006)
  20. ^ Evangeline Marzec of Demand Media (2012-01-14). "What Is Corporate Lobbying?". Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  21. ^ Brad Plumer (October 10, 2011). "The outsized returns from lobbying".  
  22. ^ Lux, Sean; Crook, T. Russell; Woehr, David J. (January 2011). "Mixing Business With Politics: A Meta-Analysis of the Antecedents and Outcomes of Corporate Political Activity". Journal of Management. Retrieved November 26, 2012. doi: 10.1177/0149206310392233 Journal of Management; vol. 37 no. 1 223-247 
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ "Lobbying Act, Regulations and Code of Conduct". Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada. September 10, 2010. Retrieved January 15, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Lobbies in the Knesset". 1997-04-01. Retrieved 2013-06-20. 


  • P. L. Petrillo, Form of government and lobbying in UE and UK, in (march, 2013)
  • Joos, Klemens: Lobbying in the new Europe. Successful representation of interests after the Treaty of Lisbon, 244 pages, ISBN 978-3-527-50597-5, Wiley VCH 2011
  • Geiger, Andreas: EU Lobbying handbook, A guide to modern participation in Brussels, 244 pages, ISBN 3-9811316-0-6, Helios Media GmbH, 2006
  • GLOSSARY - Alphabetical list of terms associated with the Lobbying industry
  • The Bulletin, 16 March 2006, p. 14, Lobbying Europe: facts and fiction
  • The European Lawyer, December 2005/January 2006, p. 9, The lobbyists have landed
  • Financial Times, 3 October 2005, p. 8, Brussels braces for a U.S. lobbying invasion
  • Public Affairs News, November 2004, p. 34, Judgement Call
  • The European Lawyer, December 2004/January 2005, p. 26, Lifting the lid on lobbying
  • Pier Luigi Petrillo, Democracies under Pressures. Lobbies and Parliaments in a comparative public law, Giuffrè 2011 (
  • Pietro Semeraro, I delitti di millantato credito e traffico di influenza,ed. Giuffre, Milano,2000.
  • Pietro Semeraro, Trading in Influence and Lobbying in the Spanish Criminal Code, [1]
  • Wiszowaty, Marcin: Legal Regulation of Lobbying in New Members States of the European Union, Arbeitspapiere und Materialien - Forschungsstelle Osteuropa an der Universitat Bremen, No. 74: Heiko Pleines (ed.): Participation of Civil Society in New Modes of Governance. The Case of the New Member States. Part 2: Questions of Accountability. February 2006 (PDF)
  • Heiko Kretschmer/ Hans-Jörg Schmedes: Enhancing Transparency in EU Lobbying? How the European Commission's Lack of Courage and Determination Impedes Substantial Progress, Internationale Politik und Gesellschaft 1/ 2010, S. 112-122
  • "Lobbying". BBC News: Politics (London: BBC). 22 December 2005. Retrieved 2007-01-30. 
  • "Police loans inquiry is widenened". BBC News: Politics (London: BBC). 30 March 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-30. 

External links

United States

  • - The largest, comprehensive database of 22,000 registered lobbyists. Contains searchable profiles of lobbyists and government relations professionals, their clients and issues.
  • Top 25 Lobbying Groups at the Wayback Machine (archived December 3, 2002) - Fortune listed the top 25 lobbying groups in 1999.
  • LobbyWatch - a project of the Center for Public Integrity with reports on lobbyists and lobbying efforts as well as a searchable database.
  • - Capitalism Magazine mini-site. Opposes lobbying restrictions on free speech grounds.
  • The Citizen's Guide to the U.S. Government - an online tutorial containing information for individuals who wish to address issues with their elected officials.
  • Free Speech National Right to Life page containing documents opposing excessive regulation of "lobbying" as infringement on "right to petition" guaranteed by the First Amendment.
  • Public Affairs Links
  • First Street Research Group powered by - reports and analysis on the lobbying industry


  • Public Affairs Jobs HQ - news, jobs for lobbyists and policy professionals
  • The Lobby Ticker - website of independent Austrian MEP Hans-Peter Martin with original lobbyist invitations and voting recommendations he received
  • Commission for the Prevention of Corruption of the Republic of Slovenia
  • PubAffairs - the public affairs network
  • Public Affairs World
  • LobbyPlanet website
  • Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU)
  • Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO)
  • EuroBrussels, the European Affairs Jobsite
  • euroXpress
  • Spinwatch
  • The New EU, European Affairs Jobs Community
  • Alliance for Lobbying Transparency - UK based campaign
  • OECD: Special Session on Lobbying: Enhancing Transparency and Accountability 7–8 June 2007
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