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Lobbying in the United States


Lobbying in the United States describes paid activity in which special interests hire well-connected professional advocates, often lawyers, to argue for specific legislation in decision-making bodies such as the United States Congress.

It is a highly controversial phenomenon, often seen in a negative light by the American public, with some critics describing it as a legal form of bribery or extortion. While lobbying is subject to extensive and often complex rules which, if not followed, can lead to penalties including jail, the activity of lobbying has been interpreted by court rulings as constitutionally protected free speech and a way to petition the government for the redress of grievances, two of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Since the 1970s, lobbying activity has grown immensely in the United States in terms of the numbers of lobbyists and the size of lobbying budgets, and has become the focus of much criticism of American governance. It is possible for foreign nations to hire American lobbyists to influence the foreign policy of the United States; for example, in 2016, Taiwanese officials hired American senator-turned-lobbyist Bob Dole to set up a controversial phone call between president-elect Donald Trump and Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen, a move marking a shift in US foreign policy.

Top lobbying sectors 1998–2010
Client Amount Spent  %
1 Finance, Insurance & Real Estate $4,274,060,331 15%
2 Health $4,222,427,808 15%
3 Misc Business $4,149,842,571 14%
4 Communications/Electronics $3,497,881,399 12%
5 Energy & Natural Resources $3,104,104,518 11%
6 Transportation $2,245,118,222 8%
7 Other $2,207,772,363 7%
8 Ideological/Single-Issue $1,477,294,241 5%
9 Agribusiness $1,280,824,983 4%
10 Defense $1,216,469,173 4%
11 Construction $480,363,108 2%
12 Labor $427,355,408 1%
13 Lawyers & Lobbyists themselves $336,170,306 1%
Total $28,919,684,431 99%
Note: Amounts do not include
campaign contributions. Wikipedia





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