Lobbyists

In the USA, the ‘lobbying industry’ is based on K Street in Washington, DC, and is a $3.5 billion industry that directs approximately $3.5 trillion of government spending, as well as influencing legislation. It has also led to a phenomenon called ‘Revolving Door Syndrome, where members of Congress or their staff leave their political jobs and go to work for a lobbying firm, while maintaining contact with their old colleagues.

Lobbying in the UK is much smaller scale, but it has grown in recent years with 114 lobbying firms now registered in the UK. A sign of the increasing practice of politicians becoming lobbyists was revealed by a scandal in 2015 involving two former foreign secretaries, Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Rifkind claimed to be able to gain special access to global diplomats, through which he could represent the views of firms that paid him a fee, while Straw claimed to have been able to change EU rules on behalf of a commodity firm which had paid him £60,000.


With 12,411 registered lobbyists in 2012 and with the 'K Street corridor' becoming the centre for Washington-based lobbyist firms, it is clear that lobbying is now a 'persuasion industry' in its own right. Indeed in 2012, the US Chamber of Commerce employed 183 lobbyists, who spent $136 million on lobbying activities.

The impact of lobbyists on the 2010 Healthcare Act shows the influence of lobbyists on Capitol Hill. These include the following:

· The Sunlight Foundation highlighted how 20% of the campaign funds for Max Baucus, former chair of the Senate Finance Committee, was contributed by lobbyists linked to PhARMA, representing the wealthy pharmaceutical industry. Some argue that this influenced his decision to exclude from initial discussions about healthcare reform in 2009 those pressure groups demanding wider healthcare coverage. In 2005 Bill Tauzin retired from the House of Representative and was hired by PhARMA with an initial payment of 11 million dollars- while in the House he had pushed for an extension of Medicare which made billions for the pharmaceutical industry. In his capacity as chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Tauzin was one of the chief architects of the Medicare bill. Tauzin's appointment shortly afterward as chief lobbyist for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the trade association and lobby group for the drug industry, drew criticism from consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, which claimed Tauzin "may have been negotiating for the lobbying job while writing the Medicare legislation."

It's a sad commentary on politics in Washington that a member of Congress who pushed through a major piece of legislation benefiting the drug industry, gets the job leading that industry.

— Public Citizen President Joan Claybrook, 2004


In 2009, according to a study by the Center for Public Integrity, more than 1,750 companies and organisations hired about 4,525 lobbyists, who spent around $3.3 billion in order to influence the healthcare issue.



In the film The Distinguished Gentleman, freshman Congressman (and con man) Thomas Jefferson Johnson (Eddie Murphy) is schooled in the ways of Washington by legendary lobbyist Terry Corrigan (Kevin McCarthy).