Presentation on theme: "Open Secrets Who was your congressman/woman? Who were their biggest contributors? Why were those their biggest contributors? www.opensecrets.org."— Presentation transcript:
Open Secrets Who was your congressman/woman? Who were their biggest contributors? Why were those their biggest contributors?
What are some ways that citizens or organizations can influence public government officials and policy? How might such actions affect a democracy?
Interest Groups, PACs, and Lobbyists
Interest Groups Group of people with common goals who work together to influence government and public policy AKA faction, pressure, group, special interest
Interest Groups vs. Political Parties Political Parties: broad range of issues to appeal to voters; goal is to win elections; nominate candidates for government offices Interest Groups: concerned with just a few issues and specific problems; goal is to influence public policy; may support or oppose, but do not nominate candidates
Interest Groups Who? – People with shared interest and goals; join for economic self-interest, personal beliefs, values, attitudes What do they do? – Influence thru “inside and outside lobbying” – Inside: work with gov’t officials – Outside: work with the public, PACs and election contributions
Types of Interest Groups Economic Groups – Types: business, labor, agricultural, professional – Most fully and effectively organized Citizens Groups (non-economic groups) – Types: public interest, single interest, ideological – Not for economic gain but ‘purposive incentives’ or causes they believe in Other – Foreign government and private interests of foreign countries – Sub national government (National Governors Assoc.)
Economic Groups Business and Labor – Taxes, unemployment, ways to strengthen economy – US Chamber of Commerce, American Federation of Labor Agriculture – 6 million plus farmers in US – National Farmers Union, American Farm Bureau Professional – American Bar/Med Associations, teachers, etc
Citizens Groups Single Interest – One area of focus; single issue – NRA Ideological – Broad agenda based on philosophical/moral issues – NAACP Public Interest – General public concern; “Interest of all Americans” – Public Citizen Inc.
Free-Rider Problem Collective or public goods result from the work of citizens groups Public goods benefit ALL citizens, including those who are not members of the group Everyone benefits from work of the National Wildlife Foundation and Clean Water Network Other groups with more specific causes have the same problem – NAACP has ~500,000 members, but all 35 million African Americans benefit from its work – NRA has ~3 million members, but the ~40 million gun owners benefit from the groups work and members’ monetary contributions
How They Influence Outside Lobbying – Grassroots Lobbying – Influence public, gain support, push for public to influence officials (petitions, letters, etc.) – Election contributions: PACs (Political Action Committees), 501(c) groups, 527 groups Inside Lobbying – Lobbyists: direct dealings and work with government officials – Lobbying executive agencies, the courts, and Congress
Election Contributions 501(c) groups – Section 501(c) of Internal Revenue Code – Nonprofit, tax exempt group that can engage in varying amounts of political activity depending of type of group (religious, educational, business, welfare, etc) 527 groups – Section 527 of Internal Revenue Code – Tax exempt group that raises money for political activities such as voter mobilization and issue advocacy PACs – Political Action Committees – Super PACs – Leadership PACs
Political Action Committees Raise and spend monetary contributions for the purpose of electing or defeating candidates Affiliated PACs and Nonconnected PACs – Affiliated: tied to corps, unions, etc. (~70%) – Nonconnected: particular cause like free trade – Contributions from individuals limited to $5k; corps and unions can’t directly contribute to PACs – Can give $5k to candidate; $15k to political party; $5k to another PAC https://www.google.com/search?q=PACs&espv=210&es_sm=119&sou rce=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=OoWCUqrnFIqokQe6roCADg&ved=0CAk Q_AUoAQ&biw=1202&bih=663#es_sm=119&espv=210&q=political+ac tion+committee&tbm=isch https://www.google.com/search?q=PACs&espv=210&es_sm=119&sou rce=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=OoWCUqrnFIqokQe6roCADg&ved=0CAk Q_AUoAQ&biw=1202&bih=663#es_sm=119&espv=210&q=political+ac tion+committee&tbm=isch
Super PACs Can’t “directly coordinate” with candidates and campaigns Unlimited amount of support independent of candidate/campaign No limit on donations from individuals, unions and other groups, corporations, etc.
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court case; Jan In 2008, conservative interest group Citizens United wanted to air film critical of Hilary Clinton Ruling: – First Amendment prohibits gov’t from restricting independent political spending of unions, associations, and corporations (political spending is free speech) – Can convince people to vote or not vote for candidates (TV and radio ads, etc.), but can’t give directly to candidates – “If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”
Leadership PACs Money raised by politicians in order to help other politicians Donate to members of their party gain power by eliciting more bids for leadership posts and committee chairmanships Regulations not strict use money for their own campaigns, for hiring staff, and even for trips and other expenses for themselves and family
Lobbying/Lobbyists 1 st Amendment right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances” What – direct contact with government officials in order to influence policy Who – people with knowledge of politics/working of government: lawyers, public relations experts, friends of gov’t officials, former gov’t officials
Role of Lobbyists Executive Agencies – Agencies that support/oppose groups based on whose strategies benefit agency purposes The Courts – Groups use lawsuits to influence courts – NAACP – Amicus curiae briefs to influence court decisions and public opinion Congress – Safe Strategy: provide info, rely on allies in Congress, push steadily but not too aggressively
Role of Lobbyists Influence and persuade Provide info on positions and policies of group – Reports, stats, etc. Meetings, fundraisers, gifts Testify before committees considering bills Influence votes on bills Help write bills - ~50% of bills are at least partly written by lobbyists/interest groups
Regulations – 1946 Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act: lobbyists have to register with Congress, detailing who he/she is and whom they work for – 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act: closed loopholes of 1946 Act Register with Congress; semi-annual reports – laws and issues addressed, branches and agencies contacted, estimated money spent House and Senate Ethics Rules and Codes of Official Conduct – BUT written by those in Congress…
Pro Theories Pluralist Theory – Interest groups bring representation to all citizens b/c groups compete and counterbalance each other – Some stronger than others, but none is ‘winner’ all the time – Common good is not a singular thing that one group can bring Groups with different interests prevail on different issues, so the the collective interest of society as a whole has been promoted – Groups promote issues often neglected by political parties: hot button issues like abortion often avoided by parties b/c voters disagree
Con Theories Interest Group Liberalism – Officials tend to support policy demands of groups with special stake in policies groups get what they want, regardless of majority of society Economic/Class Bias – Upper middle class and high socioeconomic status more represented in groups better position than those who are underrepresented in groups Elite Theory – Economic groups, mainly corps, are most organized and most represented biased toward corporations – Only a few groups, mainly the wealthy, have most of the power – Gov’t run by few interests of key groups and institutions
Other Pros/Cons Pro: info, knowledge on issues – officials need to be educated on topics they vote on Con: corruption – lobbyists and groups “buying” officials and votes “Revolving Door” – Gov’t officials become lobbyists, and vice versa – Gov’t hires private sector professionals for experience, relationship/influence with industries, and political support from industries – Industries hire former gov’t officials for access to current officials, inside info on current events, influence on bills important to causes – Pros/Cons of this – similar to above
Lobbyists would “furnish sumptuous free meals without number, and great quantities of assorted intoxicating liquors to legislators” and “debase them morally by procuring for their entertainment lascivious women who were on the payroll of the lobbyist and who were willing to run the whole gamut, so to speak, of immorality.” – Representative Eugene O’Sullivan, Congressional Report June 1950
House Ethics Rules Activity With your group, read and discuss sections of the “Highlights of the House Ethics Rules” When watching the Abramoff interview, think about what rules were being broken, and how After watching the interview, with your group discuss ways you think Congress could/should address such problems with lobbying