How do we regulate interest groups and lobbying activity? What are the goals of these regulations? Do you think these regulations achieve their objectives? Why or why not? If you could alter the way we regulate interest group activity and lobbying, how might you do so in a way consistent with the Constitution and recent Supreme Court decisions? Respond to at least 2 other students’ posts.
Chapter 10 Learning Objectives:
10.5 Free Speech and the Regulation of Interest Groups
• Identify the various court cases, policies, and laws that outline what interest groups can and
• Evaluate the arguments for and against whether contributions are a form of freedom of speech
Remember to incorporate the course readings to form a foundation for your responses. Additionally, you must properly cite the course text (Krutz, 2020, page number). Consult the Discussion Grading Guidelines for additional details.
First peer below
Lawmakers rely on special interest groups to get an idea on what is on the mind of the people. Special interest groups rely on lawmakers to get laws and policies that will benefit their members in the best way. Lobbying is the method that interest groups use to get their message to the members of Congress that they need the most. Lobbying is protected under the freedom of speech and right to assembly clause of the first amendment. Lobbying requires payments in the forms of campaign dollars and that’s where regulation is required.
Regulations have been established and changed several times over the years. In 1971, the Federal Election Campaign Act limited candidates for President and Vice President and their families to how much they could contribute to their campaigns. It did allow for PAC money and required public disclosure. The Federal Election Campaign Act was amended in 1974 to include candidates for Congress but the amended law banned the transfer of union, corporate, and trade associations money to parties for distribution to campaigns. The supreme court upheld the right of Congress to regulate contributions to candidates with Buckley v Valeo (1976) but at the same time overturned restrictions on expenditures (Krutz, 2020, p. 392)
Is lobbying entitled to free speech protection? The Supreme Court has said that interest groups are expressing their freedom of speech by donating to campaigns. Two cases, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission have won in favor of unrestricted campaign donations from unions, corporations, and trades without aggregate limits. (Krutz, 2020, p.393) In reality, these cases caused what achievement was made to back pedal. Lobbying has become more active. Once again, interest groups with the largest wallets will have the loudest voice.
Lobbyists still have rules and regulations that they must follow. Not following the law by not registering or not disclosing expenditures carry still penalties like fines, being banned from lobbying and possible prison time. The Federal Election Commission must be a better watchdog for corruptness. Limitations should be placed on the number of lobbyists per interest group. One thing I would like to see changed is the amount of time increased between leaving office and joining the lobby pool.
Second peer below
The federal government places limits on contributions to candidates and their campaigns. However, in the case of Buckley v. Valeo (1976), while the supreme court upheld those limits, they overturned the restrictions on expenditures by candidates (Krutz, 2020, 392.) Basically, the supreme court said that while there are limits on what can be donated, if the candidate has it, they can spend it. There was a loophole in this policy, referred to as soft money, for the grassroots voter registration drives that said that interest groups could spend money on behalf of the candidates and they used that to get around the limits on donations to a campaign. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act sponsored by McCain and Feingold in 2002 banned the soft-money loophole. However, in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the courts overturned the ban on soft money (Krutz, 2020, 392.) The supreme court also helped strike down aggregate contribution limits on total contributions allowed in the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission citing that campaign expenditures are a form of speech and are allowed under the first amendment (Krutz, 2020, 392.)
There are regulations in place for lobbyists in the United States as well. Both federal and state governments have restrictions in place for interest groups and lobbyists. Policies like The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 and the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 are in place to ensure transparency amongst lobbyists. Aside from having to register the group with the government before being allowed to lobby, no compensation can be given to lobbyists, limits on how much money lobbyists can spend on lobbying lawmakers are in place, along with requiring disclosures about the amount of money being spent. Contact between members of Congress and lobbyists that are married to other members of Congress is prohibited (Krutz, 2020, 394.) President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting members of the executive branch from accepting gifts from lobbyists. This order also kept any member from participating in any matter that involved a former client or employer within a two-year time frame (Krutz, 2020, 394.) There are penalties like fines, being banned from lobbying, or prison time for violating these laws and requirements.