The term lobbying has been around since the 1800s and is said to have originated as a way to describe people who hung around the lobbies of government buildings hoping to curry favor or influence legislators. But it’s only been in the last quarter century or so that serious regulations and professional standards have been developed.
Lobbyists are often under attack and blamed for all that is wrong in government. The public view seems to be that lobbyists are dishonest and unfair in their ability to influence our government. Politicians often see lobbyists as “necessary evils” that are used to accomplish goals and get things done.
The truth is, lobbying is simply an attempt to influence legislation by speaking with or advocating to representatives. It is the right of every citizen to lobby or send a lobbyist on her behalf to the halls of government. And how could it be otherwise as long as the first amendment is in place.
And the truth is, you have probably been part of a group, business, or organization that has employed and uses lobbyists to influence government. Lobbying takes place at every level of government, even unofficially in small political circles, such as school boards and non-profit organizations.
Lobbyists often bring expertise to the table, a great benefit to legislators who cannot possibly master every policy or position affected by the legislation they must pass. Lobbyists are motivated professionally to master their policy areas, and many of them will be involved long after the legislators has moved on. And while some lobbyists do stray into unethical areas with questionable tactics, there are rules to prevent this. The majority of lobbying involves knowledgeable people making a cogent case before a legislator.