The Ethical Lobbyist

The Ethical Lobbyist: Reforming Washington's Influence Industry

Thomas T. Holyoke
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 68
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  • Book Info
    The Ethical Lobbyist
    Book Description:

    Lobbyists in Washington aren't a new phenomenon. Since the early days of the republic, citizens and groups alike have hired professionals to press their interests with lawmakers. However, recent examples of misconduct-like that seen in the Abramoff scandal-highlight the unique ethical challenges this industry faces in the twenty-first century.Though major scandals happen less frequently than popularly believed, the more pervasive ethics problem is that members of the profession often cut deals that go against their clients' interests. They sacrifice the interests of those they represent in order to curry favor with lawmakers. InThe Ethical Lobbyist, Thomas T. Holyoke exposes how current industry regulations fall short of ensuring principled behaviors and may actually incentivize unethical behavior.Holyoke presents the provocative argument that, in addition to welcoming stronger regulations, lobbyists need to borrow a page from the legal profession and adopt ironclad guarantees of principled representation.The Ethical Lobbyistputs forth a set of principles and a workable program for implementing reform. The result is a road map to reform that will transform "ethical lobbyist" from an oxymoron to an expectation-and change the industry and our government for the better.

    eISBN: 978-1-62616-251-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)

    In 2013Rolling Stonemagazine published an exposé of one of America’s most powerful interest groups, the National Rifle Association (NRA). A gruesome school shooting claiming the lives of students and teachers had failed to shake the NRA’s opposition to legislation proposed by President Barack Obama restricting a person’s ability to purchase any type of gun, or even track gun ownership.¹ But what really intrigued the author was that the NRA’s leaders and lobbyists took this uncompromising position even though it appeared to be at odds with the opinions of a majority of the NRA’s own members. A 2012 survey...

  5. 1 Growth Industry
    (pp. 5-10)

    Sheer numbers show just how large a presence interest groups and lobbyists have in modern American politics. According to, there are nearly 18,000 organized interest groups lobbying state and national governments in the United States today, with nearly 7,000 primarily lobbying just the national government.¹ Although lobbying in Washington by private interests has been around in some form since the nation’s founding, professional advocacy on this scale is a twentieth-century phenomenon, which is now spilling over into the twenty-first century.² To get at least a general sense of when interest groups first started appearing on the political stage in...

  6. 2 The Constitutional Right to Petition and Lobby
    (pp. 11-20)

    The First Amendment’s last clauses—“Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people to freely assemble and petition government for a redress of grievances”—captures the two basic aspects of interest group politics: collective action (the right to freely assemble), and pressuring government for policy change (the right to petition for redress of grievances). The US Supreme Court recognized the right to organize interest groups under the amendment’s freedom of assembly clause in 1958’s NAACPv. Patterson.¹ Protecting lobbying under the amendment’s petitioning clause was upheld in theRumelyandHarrisscases (which are discussed below),...

  7. 3 A Perspective on Ethical Lobbying
    (pp. 21-28)

    Because lobbying’s legal justification is the First Amendment’s petitioning clause, to lobby ethically must mean to provide honest and accurate representation for citizens who are trying to petition the government. Ethical lobbying gives a political voice to factions of the public that could not do it as effectively left to their own devices. It helps citizens pursue their individual rights by pressuring leaders to consider their claims for redress. The First Amendment does not require lobbyists to look out for the public interest, as some reformers argue; lawmakers are responsible for considering the public interest when they respond to citizens’...

  8. 4 Ethics and Reform
    (pp. 29-35)

    It all boils down to a fairly simple point: Ethical lobbying requires lobbyists to always faithfully and zealously advocate for exactly what their interest group members or clients want. The First Amendment’s petitioning right requires it because there is no other legal justification for the lobbying profession. If members do not all agree on what they want, lobbyists must reconcile these differences before lawmakers are lobbied. Otherwise the lobbyist is, to some degree, lobbyingagainstthe interests of the people who hired him or her to petition for them—and that is unethical. And not only must members and clients...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 36-38)

    Lobbying may not be the world’s oldest profession, but as long as people have been governed, somebody has probably sought to persuade the rulers to make policy for the persuader’s benefit. And if these persuaders do not have enough personal influence, they employ the services of those who do. Lobbying is a natural part of the governing process, regardless of the form of government being lobbied. In the republic of the United States, it is a large, growing profession, but one protected by the nation’s fundamental law. The First Amendment to the Constitution gives people the right to freely assemble...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 39-48)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 49-54)
  12. About the Author
    (pp. 55-56)
  13. Illustrations
    (pp. 57-60)