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December 2, 2013 - Interest Groups.docx

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Political Science
Political Science 2244E
Peter Scapillato

Interest Groups December 2, 2013 Interest Groups  Organization whose goal is to influence the government.  A tool in the political toolbox.  Lobbyist o “Frontline” employee. o Not all lobbyists work for interest groups. o Simply going to meet with a government official and attempting to persuade politicians can make one a lobbyist – just not a paid one.  Their main function is to influence policy makers – they do so in a variety of ways. High Numbers. Big Issues  A lot of interest groups. o Hundreds of thousands.  A variety of issues. o Veterans to religion to education.  Public-advocacy/citizen groups. o Collective issues.  Private interest groups. o Corporate issues. o E.g.. Big oil, agriculture, the auto industry, etc. o Only out to benefit their clients (at our expense). Public Advocacy Groups: The Big Three 1. Vital Link  Public to government – updating/informing public on current developments; other relevant political aspects. 2. Reverse Vital Link  Government to public – acting as a medium; informs the government what the people are thinking and want done regarding a political issue. 3. Mobilize  “Get involved!”  Mobilize members and non-members.  Keep you up to date and active. C.R.E.A.M. (Public Advocacy Groups) o Money is paramount. o Members and clients provide funding. o Operating costs, salaries, etc. need to be paid for by these profits. o Funding comes from those paying membership, as well as donations. o Private interest groups on the other hand are often funded by their own members. Regulation o Initially limited – there was almost no regulation around interest groups and their spending before 1946. o Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act (1946) o To start regulating interest groups. o Two stipulations (to make things more transparent):  Lobbyists had to register with Congress and you had to tell Congress who your clients were.  You had to disclose how much your client was spending. o Gift Ban (1995) o Loophole. o You could give a congress person a gift (e.g. brand new car), and
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