You are on page 1of 11

This slide tutorial is a mobile-compatible version of the lesson available at:

In this module you will learn how to use authoritative open-access resources to find information about lobbying and campaign finance. By the end of the module, you will be able to address the following essential questions: How does lobbying impact the development of public policy in the United States? Should the current model be changed?
Scenario: You are an analyst for the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Your team has been asked by the House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform to investigate the effects of lobbying on the development of public policy in the United States and make recommendations about potential changes to the current model. Contents & Tasks: Lobbying Basics Campaign Finance Literature Review Analysis


OpenSecrets is a project of the Center for Responsive Politics. Most of the data in OpenSecrets has been obtained from an official government source such as the Federal Election Commission or the Senate Office of Public Records. We will be using OpenSecrets to find information about lobbying, so go ahead and open up their site in a new tab or window.

1. 2.




Select "Issues & Lobbying" tab Select "Lobbying" and then "Issues" in left navigation bar Select an Issue from the list Scroll down to see a list of Clients who have lobbied on that issue; select a Client Find the Clients "Total Lobbying Expenditures" and note that figure Select the "Bills" tab to find the bills lobbied on that Clients behalf

Choose an issue that interests you (ex: environment, education, etc.) then answer the following questions:

Who are some of the top clients that lobby bills on that issue? Choose one of the clients; how much were their lobbying expenditures last year? Review some of the recent bills on which the client has lobbied; is there a trend? Record your findings as a voicethread ( Invite your team members to view and comment on your voicethread report

OpenSecrets Exercise

What does lobbying have to do with campaign financing? Most campaign donations are not contributed directly by lobbyists; the majority of donations are contributed by individual "large" donors and Political Action Committees (PACs). Although this money is not coming from lobbyists, lobbyists do represent the interests of their clients, who are generally composed of large individual donors and PACs. The following video provides a background on current campaign finance law in the United States and a brief history on how it was developed.

Campaign Finance

We know that lobbyists clients donate largely to political campaigns. But, do campaign donations influence the decisions of policymakers? is a non-profit, non-partisan research organization that compiles data on campaign financing from sources such as OpenSecrets and couples that data with voting records from sources such as and independent research. We will be using to investigate campaign finance, so go ahead and open up their site in a new window or tab.

1. 2. 3.

4. 5.


Select the "Interest Groups" tab Select an Industry from the list Select the "Bills Supported & Opposed" tab Select a Bill from the list Review the "Contributions by Vote" data Select the "$ Near Votes" tab; this displays a breakdown of contributions made to individual legislators within 30 days of voting on the bill Select the "Timeline by Contribution" tab to see how contribution amounts vary during the months leading up to the vote on the bill

Review the "Contributions by Vote" data for several bills across industries then answer the following questions:

Do contributions seem to be predictive of how a legislator will vote? Do contribution levels change during the period of time leading to a vote? Record your findings as a voicethread ( Invite your team members to view and comment on your voicethread report

MapLight Exercise

Now that you have compiled some data by consulting primary sources, you will need to consult secondary sources (ie. books, journal articles, etc.) to explore the findings and analysis of other scholars and researchers.

Find Books:

Find Journal Articles:

To find books about lobbying, search the UCSC librarys online catalog Cruzcat: Keywords: lobbying, power, influence, politics Subject: Lobbying--United States

To find journal articles about lobbying, try searching in the following article databases: Academic Search Complete Political Science: Sage Full-Text Collection Lexis Nexis Congressional
Tips for searching: Before accessing any database, log in to Off-Campus Access Use the term "lobb*" to capture lobbyist, lobbies, lobbying, etc. Other keywords: policy, reform, power, influence

Literature Review

Once you have found several quality resources, share them with you team using diigo.
1. 2.


One team member will need to create a diigo group for your team Each team member will add their list of resources to the group's knowledge repository (be sure to include a full citation and URL for each resource) Read at least 4 of the resources from the knowledge repository

Share Your Resources

Now that youve had time to look over the data and think about lobbying, you and your team should assemble your ideas and then write a letter to your representative expressing your views. Remember to address the questions: How does lobbying impact the development of public policy in the United States? Should the current model be changed?
These sites might be helpful for group collaboration:

Write Your Analysis

The site allows users to discuss all things legislative. Users can also share letters that they have written to their representatives so that other users can send the letter to their respective representatives.
Upload your analysis in the form of a letter at (and while youre there, send it to your representative if you like). "Soapbox" tutorial:

1. 2. 3. 4.

Register for a free account at Select "Get on Your Soapbox" Select "Create a Soapbox Message Here" Fill out the webform and insert your letter into the Soapbox content box

Post Your Analysis