First, despite what you see on TV, interest groups are not necessarily an evil thing. The First Amendment guarantees our right to free speech, and “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” which is essentially a Constitutional right to form interest groups and work collectively to influence public policy.I’m biased on this one. I love teaching, but I spent a career as a lobbyist for the Houston Apartment Association, a non-profit trade association that represents people who develop, own and manage apartment properties. Mostly, I do what my clients don’t have time to do – read all the city council agendas each week, go to meetings, keep track of what’s being discussed and help explain the unintended consequences of things being considered. Persuading somebody to vote a certain way is a very rare part of the job, and is generally done by people actually in the industry, not lobbyists.At the federal level, though, things are changing. The amount of money required to win a congressional campaign is becoming enormous, and the extent to which congressmen rely on interest groups for campaign funding makes many citizens justifiably nervous.Find the website for the Center for Responsive Politics: https://www.opensecrets.org/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.Explore around a little, then find your way to the “Interest Groups” page (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. under “Influence & Lobbying.” Click on “Interest Groups List,” then search by sector. Find an industry that interests you – one in which you work or hope to work someday.Write a 2 – 5 page essay about that group’s campaign contributions. How much do they give? To whom? Why do you think they chose those recipients? (Hint: Go to https://www.congress.gov/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and look at their committee assignments) What do you think they have to gain from doing this? What do they have to lose if they don’t? If you were involved with this group, would you push for them to do anything differently?Submit in Word. Cite your sources.Previous Next
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