How Lobbying Is More Strictly Defined and Govern by State Law

Ronald L. Book

January 19, 2023

There are many things to consider when it comes to lobbying. The laws governing it vary from state to state, and it can be unclear. Thankfully, there are certain guidelines that you can follow, and it is much easier to navigate the laws when you know what to expect.

Direct lobbying

“Lobbying” refers to the practice of soliciting other individuals or organizations to take action in support or opposition to a specific legislative or administrative action. Generally, it involves communication with a legislator, a member of the executive branch, or the Governor’s staff. A professional lobbyist, as opposed to a citizen, is a person who a lobbying firm employs.

The IRS defines a member as someone who gives more than a nominal amount of time or money to an organization. Legislative lobbying, a type of direct lobbying, is promoting legislation before the General Assembly, influencing the Governor’s veto, and strategizing the passage of a bill.

Lobbying can also include providing information in writing or person to the legislative body. This includes the gathering of factual information for public debate, as well as research related to actual communication with a government employee. However, the study of legislative matters is not a preparatory stage for advocating such legislation.

A citizen is a lobbyist exercising their constitutional right to communicate with the legislative body. A nonprofit may pay a professional lobbyist or a volunteer to engage in the task.

Lobbying expenditures are based on an organization’s annual exempt-purpose expenditures. These include allocable portions of administrative and overhead expenses and other similar expenses.

Revolving door laws

Revolving door laws are legal provisions preventing former public servants from participating in lobbying activities in the same government agency. It is often referred to as a mandatory “waiting period.”

These rules prohibit public officials from representing other people before agencies. They also limit the use of special knowledge gained in public service. In many cases, these laws are intended to stop unfair trading on this information.

Various types of state employees are subject to revolving door rules. This includes executive heads of state agencies and legislative support agencies. However, these restrictions do not apply to members of the Legislature and judicial branches.

For example, in Illinois, the “Revolving Door” statute prohibits an individual from employment with an entity involved in the same “particular matter” while in the same position. Also, it prohibits spouses, immediate family members, and former government officials from serving as lobbyists or receiving compensation for the serv威而鋼
ices they rendered while serving in a position.

Another common restriction is the prohibition of switching sides. A person representing foreign governments, international organizations, or other private parties on the same “particular matter” must wait at least two years before switching back. Similarly, a person who has served in the legislative or judicial branches of the government must wait at least six years before lobbying.

Madisonian view of politics

A few hundred years ago, the United States began its march toward independence from the British empire. The federal government was a work in progress. Taney believed in giving power to the states. However, a powerful government could be placed in the hands of certain groups working against the greater good.

James Madison argued that the best American system incorporated a few key elements. These included a separation of powers, checks, and balances, and a robust “fringe” of federalism. This latter feature, in particular, led to the most important debates over the last century.

While the Madisonian system is no longer in effect, its embodied operations remain key features of our polity. Modern-day presidents are faced with a similar dilemma. They need to deal with competing power centers. In addition, they must contend with the various neo-liberal trends ensconced within a reshaped national economy.

As far as political institutions go, the Madisonian system had its flaws. Its central tenet, separation of powers, was an overly simplistic solution. Although the system accomplished its objectives, it also left the door open to consolidating power. This became especially evident during the Civil War.

Although it may not be the most efficient system, the Madisonian system did a fair job of the requisite balancing act. Of course, its failure to contain the raging fire of the Civil War was the most telling.