Why has the impact of professional lobbyists on policy making in the USA been controversial?
One of the main areas of controversy over the impact of professional lobbyists on policy making in the USA is that it fits the elitist model of pressure groups outlined in the book “The power elite”. Essentially a small yet powerful group of people have a disproportionate amount of influence; this is clearly illustrated by the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre. Despite 49% of Americans wanting stricter gun control legislation (compared to 37% happy with the current laws, and 13% wanting less legislation) (Gallup 2013). No change was brought about as many Senators were funded by the NRA and were influenced by Wayne LaPierre and Obamas legislation was defeated in the senate.
Another major source of controversy is the potential abuse of public office, be this either legal or illegal. Many Americans are uneasy with politicians making contacts whilst in public office and then taking these contacts to the private sector as lobbyists. For example Susan Molinari, a chief lobbyist at google, now on a salary thought to be around $3 million, her contacts made when she was in public office, enabled her to get this job. However, lobbyists don’t always operate above board, most notably Jack Abramoff who was found guilty of corruption in 2005. It is acts such as this which has caused 72% of Americans to view special interests as one of the greatest threats facing their country.
Another criticism levelled at professional lobbyists, is their ability to cause gridlock in the American political system. A good example of this was the appointment of Chuck Hagel to the position of secretary of defence. He was seen to have anti-Israeli views and as a result groups such as AIPAC lobbied the senate and as a result the nomination was delayed by a successful filibuster. Although the nomination was eventually ratified, this should have been a routine act and it should have not been that...