Today, we are continuing our look at lobbying tactics.
Supplying information, and even sometimes helping write legislation is a common form of lobbying. In addition to providing information to legislators, interest groups provide information to their members, both in the form of newsletters/magazines, and through rating/grading system of elected officials and candidates. These ratings serve as a cue for members when deciding who to vote for.
One way interest groups try to influence lawmakers is through direct lobbying. This involves one on one contact with legislators and is referred to as an insider strategy. Sometimes this lobbying goes too far and breaks ethical rules as evidenced by the case of Jack Abramoff. There are also complaints about the revolving door, or the frequency of former government officials moving into private lobbying firms.
Other groups utilize grassroots lobbying or an outsider strategy. This involves mobilizing members to influence public opinion and put pressure on elected officials. It may include letter/phone campaigns, marches, and demonstrations.
Groups like the NAACP and ACLU often use litigation, or lawsuits, to achieve their policy goals. Sometimes when public opinion differs, and elected officials are reluctant to change policy or success is not obtainable through legislative or executive action, a legal remedy through the courts is the best option.
Another lobbying tactic is the use of money by interest groups or political action committees (PACs). Billions of dollars are donated with the primary goal of access to lawmakers. Open Secrets is a great web site that illustrates the use of money in lobbying.
Sometimes interest groups engage in cooperative lobbying or coalition building. Multiple interest groups with disparate interests work together to achieve a common policy goal, like daylight savings time.