To what extent have the attempts to regulate pressure groups been successful in the USA? (30 marks)

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  • regulation of PGs
    • the definition of lobbyists has caused problems
      • Lobbying Disclosure Act 1995
        • defined lobbyist as someone with more than one contract & spends 20% time lobbying
        • included lobbying of congress & senior executive staff
      • many lobbyists changed focus of their work so they spend < 20% lobbying
        • 3,627 lobbyists deregistered in 2008 in order to avoid restrictions
      • many lobbyists now call themselves 'strategic advisors'
        • don't directly contact officials on behalf of clients
        • instead advise clients on how to best present message to govt. & public
        • American League of Lobbyists changed name to Association of Government Relations Professionals
      • means may lobbyists can carry out work unregulated
      • reduces authority of federal govt. as lobbyists ignorming them
      • decreasepublic confidence in govt. so increase apathy & decrease participation
    • disclosure regulations have had little impact
      • Lobbying Disclosure Act 1995
      • Honest Leadership & Open Govt Act 2007
      • regs have done nothing to stop PGs spending & accepting huge amounts of money
      • PGs can still donate huge amounts to candidate's campaigns
        • since Citizens United v FEC (2010) lobbyists can donate to Super PACs which can spend unlimited amounts on TV ads supporting candidates
        • there were 1, 310 Super PACs created by the 2012 election & they raised over $ 828 m
      • still a lot of potential for corruption to occur
      • could undermine pluralist democracy & promote elitism as views of wealthy are better represented
      • supports view that its just the wealthiest who win
        • could lead to apathy & decreased participation
    • the revolving door has only been delayed, not stopped
      • Ethics in Government Act 1978
      • Ethics Reform Act 1989
      • Honest Leadership & Open Govt Act 2007
      • revolving door has increased
        • in 1974 only 3% retiring Congressmen came back as lobbyists
        • in 2013 50% Senators & 42% House Reps come back as lobbyists
      • promotes elitism & undermines pluralist democracy
      • suggests officials more interested in self-gain than making decisions in interest of the public
        • gives govt. bad image
    • regulation of gifts can be avoided
      • Honest Leadership & Open Govt Act 2007
      • loopholes in regulations of gifts that allow lobbyists to avoid regulations
        • Jack Abramoff 'you can't take a Congressman to lunch for  $25, but you can take him to a fundraising lunch and give him  $25,000 as a fundraiser'
      • promotes elitism & undermines pluralist democracy
        • poorer citizens can't afford expensive gifts
      • gives less respectability to regulations as lobbyists can get round them
    • still no regulation of grassroots activities
      • increased the growth of 'Astroturf Groups' that mask the identity & goals of a client
        • conducting a campaign that appears to be a grassroots movement
        • National Smokers' Alliance to reduce anti-smoking laws
          • claimed to be grassroots but created fro Phillip Morris (huge tobacco company)

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