Lobbying in American Politics

Lobbying, the act of communicating with elected officials in an attempt to influence the outcome of legislation. Often hired by businesses, corporations, and non-profit groups, lobbyist’s have been a staple in American politics since the presidency of Ulysses S. Grant. Marred by highly publicized scandals and controversies throughout history, lobbyist’s are often held in contempt by the American people and considered to be a corrupting influence in our nations capital. I am arguing that the use of lobbying is not a cause of corruption in American politics. And that the hiring of lobbyist’s by major corporations has been misrepresented and demonized by the mainstream media, drawing attention away from the real problems in Washington. Also resulting in widespread misunderstanding regarding the function of lobbyist’s as public policy experts and advocates. Political lobbying simply would not exist today if it was detrimental to legislative processes.

Conceding the fact that lobbying does not have an immaculate ethics record in Washington, only a small percentage of the 40, 000 lobbyist’s may participate in illegal practices (Birnbaum, 2005). The most notable instance of a lobbyist taking part in corrupt activities is the case of Jack Abramhoff. Abramhoff, dubbed a “Super Lobbyist” by the media, was convicted of conspiring to bribe public officials, tax evasion, and fraud. More like a successful conman than super lobbyist, Abramhoff’s case has become the gold standard for associating lobbyist’s with corruption. But I would like to look at this from another perspective. Abramhoff went to jail for conspiring to bribe public officials, earning six years for his actions. I agree that what he did was criminal, but when it comes to bribery it takes two to tango. Upon further investigation of Abramhoff’s actions, one member of the House of Representatives and two high ranking White House officials were found …