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Lobbying in the United States Lyn Withey, Vice President Federal and International Public Affairs

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Page 1: Withey Presentation

Lobbying in the United States

Lyn Withey, Vice PresidentFederal and International Public Affairs

Page 2: Withey Presentation


History of LobbyingOrigin

- English barons in 1215 were granted the right to petition King John if they felt their rights under the Magna Carta were violated.

- In American use in 1829 in NYC and Washington, DC

State Capitol

Willard Hotel

- As lobbying activity increased, so did interest in regulating it.

First disclosure requirement enacted in 1936.

Page 3: Withey Presentation


Lobbying Practicum

• Who are we?

• What is the role of lobbying in the political process?

• What do we do and how do we do it?

• What does it mean for you?

Page 4: Withey Presentation


Who are we, the lobbyists?

• Lobbying today: Defined as Efforts to influence policy makers, whether legislative or executive branch, to take specific actions with respect to the introduction, development, or passage of legislation, rules, regulations, or programs.

• Direct and indirect contact with policy makers

• Preparation, planning, research and background work to make such contacts

• Lobbyists individuals who spend at least 20% of their time engaged in lobbying activities over a six-month period.

Lobbying Practicum

Page 5: Withey Presentation


Who are we, the lobbyists?

Lobbying Practicum







1996 1998 2000 2002

# of RegisteredLobbyists

Nearly 25,000 registeredfederal lobbyists in 2003

• Lobbying community covers virtually every segment of the population



•Environmental organizations

•Conservation groups


•Health care workers

•Social workers

•Religious organizations

•Foreign governments, states and municipalities

Page 6: Withey Presentation


Types of Lobbyists

Lobbying Practicum

• In-House - Hired by businesses, labor unions, associations, and organizations for the purpose of influencing policy on behalf of the organization.

• Associations - Employees engaged to lobby on behalf of the association members (American Forest and Paper Association; Business Roundtable; National Association of Manufacturers).

• Coalitions - Formed among groups with like-minded interests to influence public policy deliberations. (Ex: tax coalitions, trade coalitions, litigation reform coalitions)

Page 7: Withey Presentation


Types of Lobbyists (cont.)

Lobbying Practicum

• Law Firms – Policy advocacy sections represent clients on public policy issues and provide lobbying services.

• Lobby Firms – Boutique, but often sizable, groups of professional lobbyists who take on a variety of clients either on retention or to lobby on a specific issue

• PR Firms – Many have recently consolidated with lobby firms to provide full service lobbying, grassroots, and PR campaigns

Page 8: Withey Presentation


What Role Does it Play in the Political Process?

Lobbying in the U.S.

• Recognized from the earliest days of our Republic as a right of citizens to be safeguarded and encouraged.

• The First Amendment to the Constitution ensures the people’s right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances” and also guarantees the right of association and freedom of speech.

•James Madison Factions, or special interests, are essential to real democracy and constraints will be achieved by encouraging full competition among groups and implementing checks and balances through the legislative process.

Page 9: Withey Presentation


What Role Does it Play in the Political Process?

Lobbying in the U.S.

Thomas Jefferson:

“If once the people become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors shall all become wolves.”

“I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion.”

Page 10: Withey Presentation


What Role Does it Play in the Political Process?

Lobbying in the U.S.

• Serves as an extension of the representative process of government.

• Gives a voice to a multitude of interests which otherwise might not be expressed or heard.

• Provides a cross-section of views on public policy issues, not necessarily limited by party, geography, demography, (e.g. Mothers Against Drunk Driving) or which may reflect a particular societal segment (AARP, NAACP, AMA).

• Provides expertise not readily available to policy makers.

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What Role Does it Play in the Political Process?

Lobbying in the U.S.

“Lobbyists are, in many cases, expert technicians and capable of explaining complex and difficult subjects in a clear, understandable fashion…. Because our congressional representation is based on geographical boundaries, the lobbyists who speak for the various economic, commercial and other functional interests of this country serve a very useful purpose and have assumed an important role in the legislative process.”

- John F. Kennedy, before becoming President

Page 12: Withey Presentation


What Role Does it Play in the Political Process?

Lobbying in the U.S.

• Participatory democracy is the foundation of our political system, and lobbyists are an important manifestation of public participation.

• They work to ensure that voices of different interests are heard by policy makers.

• Ensure that citizens are informed of the positions taken by policy makers, so that the citizens can make informed decisions at the polls

Page 13: Withey Presentation


What Do We Do and How?

Lobbying in the U.S.

Lobbying = More than just making direct contact with policy makers

• Understand the process of policy making.

• Assess how issues and actions will affect your interests.

• Be alert to trends and political reactions which can impact your interests

• Assess allied and conflicting interests.

Page 14: Withey Presentation


What Do We Do and How? -

Lobbying in the U.S.Direct Advocacy

• Develop the most compelling case - not just from your perspective; but also from that of your audience.

• Identify policy makers whom you can seek to influence and who can make a difference in the outcome.

• If you don’t have direct access to key players, you’ll need to assess how to develop access.

• Retain outside help

• Align with others who have common interests and access

• Build cases with policy makers with whom you have a relationship and have them advocate on your behalf.

Page 15: Withey Presentation


What Do We Do and How? -

Lobbying in the U.S.Indirect Advocacy

• Educate aligned interests (employees, suppliers, customers, interest groups) about an issue and its potential impact.

• Urge them to contact their policy makers.

• Develop coalitions to support your position

• Initiate media campaigns when necessary

Page 16: Withey Presentation


What Do We Do and How?

Lobbying in the U.S.

Inform Policy Makers of Your Interests

•Don’t assume that they know.

•Don’t assume that they care.

•Don’t assume they will act…unless you ask.

Page 17: Withey Presentation


Keys to Success

Lobbying in the U.S.

• Anticipation: A continuous assessment of political developments pertaining to your interests will prevent surprises.

• Preparation: Building personal relationships with policy makers and staff before you have a problem is crucial.

• Share good news about your country, people, business, relations with the US

• House caucuses

• Understand all sides of the issue.

• Know the Force Alignment: Who’s on your side? Where is the opposition?

Page 18: Withey Presentation


Keys to Success (cont.)

Lobbying in the U.S.

• Assess the level of response you will need

• Networking and coalition building - Who shares your interests?

•Communication: It must be two-way. Must listen as well as speak. Be prepared to find areas of common interest or compromise.

• Strategic agility: Be able to develop alternative paths to a single objective. Be flexible to adapt to changing circumstances, winds, and political forces.

• Understand the process

Page 19: Withey Presentation


Keys to Success (cont.)

Lobbying in the U.S.

The most important element is integrity.integrity.

• Be sure that the information you provide is truthful and not misleading.

• Show your awareness of other points of view and contrary arguments.

• Keep your interest in perspective of other issues and priorities for your target audience.

• Don’t personalize your positions or issues.

• Maintain positive relations…even when you disagree.

Remember: alliances constantly shift; today’s adversary could be tomorrow’s ally.