527s -- A type of tax-exempt
organization, named after a section of the U.S. tax code, created
primarily to influence the nomination, election, appointment or
defeat of candidates for public office. Since they do not give
money directly to candidates, 527s avoid campaign finance regulations
rules and limits. For example, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.
Advocacy -- An organized
effort to actively and publicly support and promote a particular
set of issues or course of action, advocacy is expected to be
non-deceptive and in good faith.
Common Good -- Benefiting
the majority of members of society.
-- Lobbying on behalf of a business or industry.
Earmark -- A narrowly
focused appropriation of government money, usually attached to
appropriations bills by lawmakers to fund pet projects within
Expenditure Test --
A law enacted in 1976 establishes a ceiling for lobbying expenditures
by charities and/or nonprofits.
Front Groups -- Any
entity set up by and controlled by another organization. A front
organization hides the parent group's name, giving any research
or political actions the appearance of independence.
Gift Ban -- To prevent
corruption and even the appearance of corruption, lobbying and
political regulations ban or limit the amount of gifts lawmakers
can accept. Regulations vary by state and some lawmakers have
self-imposed limits or bans.
Graft -- The act of
acquiring money or advantage by dishonest or unfair means, especially
through the abuse of one's position or influence in politics.
-- An indirect lobbying movement organized by a network of citizens
intent on influencing politics through non-violent action at the
community level. For example, door to door campaigns.
Hard Money -- Direct
donations from individuals, organizations, Political Action Committees
and political parties that are subject to campaign finance regulation
rules and limits.
-- The practice of using money or connections with people in authority
to obtain favors or preferential treatment.
-- Coined by Ulysses S. Grant for people who lingered in the lobby
of the Willard Hotel -- located across the street from the White
House -- hoping to catch him as he went there to enjoy cigar and
drink, the term lobbying covers all acts aimed at influencing
Political Action Committee
-- The name commonly given to a private group organized to elect
or defeat government officials in order to promote legislation,
often supporting the group's special interests. For example, MoveOn.org.
-- Influencing the political system through bribery, intimidation,
extortion, vote buying, destabilization, or influence peddling.
Public Interest --
Lobbying on the behalf of issues that affect the welfare of the
Quid Pro Quo -- An
exchange of an act for a promised act in return -- Latin for "something
Revolving Door -- Term
coined to describe lawmakers and legislative staffers who leave
office only to return to Capitol Hill as a lobbyist. Although
once frowned upon, the practice has become accepted and more common.
Lobbyists generally make significantly more money than government
Right of Petition --
The right, guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment,
to request in person or in writing the government redress of grievances.
Soft Money -- Huge
unlimited donations from corporations, wealth individuals and
labor unions to the national political parties, supposedly for
generic "party building" activities.
Special Interest --
A person, group, or organization attempting to influence legislation
in favor of one particular interest or issue. For example, the
National Right to Life Committee.
Substantial Test --
Lobbying by nonprofit organizations/charities cannot be a "substantial
part" of an organization's activities.
Think Tank -- A research
organization that seeks to influence legislation and public opinion
through regular releases of detailed reports and supporting research
to the media, lawmakers and the public.
Trade Group -- Group
that represents the interests of a particular trade or industry.
For example, the National Milk Producers Federation.