This paper aims to prepare executives to pilot a US lobbying effort within the bounds of the US Federal law. Lobbying law may be thought of as the “regulation of regulation”, as it defines the ground rules for those wishing to have a direct impact upon all other regulatory systems. The article outlines what the US lobbying law requires, what it forbids and, perhaps most important, what the law does NOT regulate.
The paper takes the full spectrum of US laws and regulations relevant to lobbying – including the Internal Revenue Service Code (tax code), the Federal Election Campaign Act, the Ethics in Government Act, the internal rules of both the House and Senate, the US Criminal Code and the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act – and organizes them into a single 2 × 2 matrix, explaining what all parties must do as well as what they must not do. Via this approach, the rules that govern the “marketplace” for lobbying in the USA are explained. The competition to shape US government policy transpires within this marketplace.
Few activities the executive may engage in carry the potential payback of a well-executed lobbying campaign: empirical estimates range to returns on investment in the thousands of per cent. But the uninitiated may easily step over the line and invite both legal and public relations (PR) nightmares.
Effective lobbying can afford a corporation or industry a lasting competitive advantage. Every well-rounded business strategy should include such a component, and every well-rounded executive should be capable of performing in this arena. A solid grounding in the legal matrix forming the boundaries of this activity is a prerequisite for effective performance.
The paper organizes and outlines lobbying law in a fashion digestible by executives without legal training. It is of value to anyone wishing to engage in lobbying activities targeted at the US Government.
Many thanks to Prof Terrence Gabel for his assistance on an earlier version of this paper.
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