Interest Group - A Definition An interest group is a private organization of like-minded people whose goal is to influence and shape public policy. An interest group is a private organization of like-minded people whose goal is to influence and shape public policy. Interest groups are “extra- constitutional”. Interest groups are “extra- constitutional”.
The Nature of Interest Groups Interest groups are private organizations whose members share certain views and work to shape public policy. Interest groups exist to shape public policy Interest groups are “extra-constitutional”.
Valuable Functions of Interest Groups Interest groups raise awareness of public affairs, or issues that concern the people at large, seek to influence legislation
Early Development Date back to the time of the “Founding Fathers” Date back to the time of the “Founding Fathers” Seen as power-hungry Seen as power-hungry Believed to “promote instability, injustice, and confusion” Believed to “promote instability, injustice, and confusion”
Criticisms Some groups have an influence far out of proportion to their size or importance In rare cases, groups use tactics such as bribery, threats, and so on.
Lobbying Lobbying is any activity by which a group pressures legislators and influences the legislative process
Types of Interest Groups Economic Ideological or single-issue Public interest Foreign policy Governmental
5. Certain group of people, such as retired persons
Foreign Policy Interest Groups Concerned with the relationship between the United States and foreign nations. Examples include the Council on Foreign Relations, and AIPAC—the American-Israel Political Action Committee.
Government Interest Groups Represent the interests of government employees, as well as elected officials from state and local governments.
Characteristics and Power of Interest Groups Size and resources Cohesiveness Leadership Techniques Intensity
Interest Group Techniques Appeals to the public and mass media Mass mailings Influence of rule making Litigation Election Activities/electioneering Forming a political party Lobbying
Interest Groups vs. Political Parties Interest groups… Interest groups… support candidates, but cannot nominate them support candidates, but cannot nominate them take a narrow focus on most issues take a narrow focus on most issues compete for influence over elected officials compete for influence over elected officials
Interest Groups vs. Political Parties (con’t.) Political parties… Political parties… can nominate candidates can nominate candidates focus on a broad range of issues to appeal to a broad range of people focus on a broad range of issues to appeal to a broad range of people compete for control of the branches of govt. to control policy making compete for control of the branches of govt. to control policy making
Proposals for Reform Increasing the number of groups Full disclosure Increased federal and state regulations
The Influence of Lobbyists A. Who are the lobbyists 1. Employees of associations who try to influence policy decisions and positions in the executive and especially legislative branches of government. 2. The revolving door is the employment cycle from government to interest group.
IRON TRIANGLES 3. Iron triangles are mutually supporting relationships among interest groups, congressional committees and subcommittees, and the government agencies that share a common policy concern
B. What do Lobbyists do? 1. Provide money for congressional election campaigns 2. A “third house” of Congress, representing people on the basis of interests 3. Interest groups provide 2 types of info A. political-who supports/opposes legis. B. Substantive-impact of proposed laws
Contributions regulated by the federal government that are given directly to a candidate
Soft Money: Previously unlimited and unregulated campaign contributions to federal candidates and the national parties Supposedly for generic "party building" activities (ex: get-out-the- vote drives, bumper stickers, yard signs, and “issue ads"
Federal Election Reform Act 1974 1. Created Federal Election Commission 2. Required disclosure 3. Limited amount of money that could be contributed – HARD MONEY 1. Individual contributions may not exceed $1000 per candidate per election per year 4. No foreign contributions 5. Soft Money unlimited
Federal Election Reform Act: Unintended Consequences? 1. The rise of Political Action Committees 2. Millions of dollars of unregulated “ soft money ” used to finance campaigns
Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 a.k.a. McCain-Feingold Bill Ban on national parties and officeholders raising and spending “soft money” Special interest groups can only use regulated “hard money for pro-candidate communications with increased limits Ban on non-partisan “issue ads 60 days before election
B.C.R.A (McCain-Feingold): Unintended Consequences? 1. Rise of 527 tax exempt groups and ads 2. Independent Expenditures 3. Laundering of “ dirty money ” through political parties that ends up with candidates Former House Majority Leader Tom Delay indicted for conspiracy and laundering of illegal campaign funds
“527 ‘s”: A 527 group is created primarily to influence the nomination, election, appointment or defeat of candidates for public office. Tax-exempt organizations that engage in political activities, often through unlimited soft money contributions. Most are advocacy groups trying to influence federal elections through voter mobilization efforts and so-called issue ads that tout or criticize a candidate's record.
Campaign Finance Reform: Supreme Court Decisions Buckley v. Valeo (1976) McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003) Citizens United
Presidential Races Trends in Spending 1996 $425.7 million. 2000 $528.9 million. 2004 Receipts George W. Bush: $367,228,801 John F. Kerry: $328,479,245 Overall: $880.5 million. . 2008 Obama: 730 million spent http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08 / http://www.opensecrets.org/pres08 / McCain: 333 million spent FIRST BILLION DOLLAR PRESIDENTAL ELECTION
Money and Politics A. Role of political action committees(PAC’s) 1. PACs link tow techniques of influence a. Giving $ and other political aid to politicians b. persuading office holders to act or vote “the right way” on issues. 2. PACs are categorized by the type of interst they represent
B. The Growth of PACs 1. The committee on Political Education(COPE) –model for most PACS 2. The 1970’s brought a near revolution in the role and influence of PACs as a result of reforms increase from 150-1970 to over 4,000 today
C. How PACs invest their $ 1. Main influence is in their contribution to candidates 2. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 limits PACs to $5,000 per election or $10,000 per election cycle; individuals have limit of $2,000 per candidate per election 3. Through “bundling” their contributions, PACs increase their clout with elected officials
The Effectiveness of PACs 1. Depends on the context in which money is given and received 2. Significant relationship between PACs $ and outcome of elections 3. PACs can help friendly incumbents with soft money contributions “soft money”-unlimited contributions that go for “party-building” activities
Curing the problem of factions: 200 years after Federalist #10 A. Americans’ fears about the power of faction 1. The struggle among factions is not a fair fight 2. The interest group battle leads to great inequities because lower-income people are grossly underrepresented
Fears contin… 3. Single-issue groups have led to incoherent policies, waste, delays, inability to plan and react quickly 4. The role of interest groups in elections has made incumbents more secure and enhanced the power of interest groups 5. Safeguarding the value of liberty, but also threatening equality
B. Federal and state regulation 1. Federal legislation, 1925 Federal Corrupt Practices Act and the 1946 Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act—not effective 2. FECA-Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 3. Problems with FECA include the soft money loophole and ineffective FEC
Regulations contin… 4. Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995-definition of lobbyist was expanded to include part- timers, whose who deal with congressional staff/executive branch agencies, and those who represent foreign-owened companies and foreign entities. 5. Clinton signed into law legislation expanding disclosure requirements on issue ads(freedom of speech issues involved)
Regulations contin… 6. Issue advocacy ads/soft money very important in competitive elections
C. The Effects of Regulation 1. Increased the number and importance of such groups; increased PACs, especially corporate PACs 2. PAC money goes to incumbents(committee chairs, party leaders) 3. Disclosure of how politicians fund their campaigns is issue, also their personal finances