A lobbyist is an activist who seeks to persuade members of the government to enact legislation that would benefit their business, association or group. While most people think of lobbyists only as paid professionals, there are also many volunteer lobbyists. Anyone who petitions the government or contacts their member of the state legislatiure to voice an opinion is functioning as a lobbyist. The lobbying profession is a legitimate and integral part of our democratic political process that is often not well understood by the general population. Lobbying is a protected activity under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which guarantees rights to free speech, assembly, and petition.
Lobbying involves more than persuading legislators. Professional lobbyists research and analyze legislation or regulatory proposals, attend committee hearings, and educate government officials and corporate officers on important issues. Lobbyists also work to change public opinion through advertising campaigns or by influencing 'opinion leaders'.
Lobbyists represent just about every American institution and interest group - labor unions, corporations, colleges and universities, churches, charities, environmental groups, senior citizens organizations, and even state, local or foreign governments.
Yes, in Texas all lobbyists must be registered with the Texas Ethics Commission.
President Ulysses S. Grant coined the term lobbyist in the early 1800s. Grant had a fondness for the Willard Hotel lobby in Washington DC and people would approach him there to discuss individual causes.
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