G pages 211/212/213






“Americans see most interest groups and lobbyists… as wheeler-dealers and government as being influenced by a relatively few big interests.” (G212)  For interest group links, click (1)(2)]



I.                     Interest groups (G212-G216)

A.            An organized group of individuals who share common goals and seek to influence government decision making. 

B.            Types of interest groups

      1.               Economic interest groups (G213)

a.                    Most important types: business, labor, professional, and agricultural

b.                   These organizations focuses on tax laws, government subsidies, antitrust laws, consumer regulations etc. 

c.                    Main economics interest groups include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable, and the AFL-CIO (America Federation of Labor-

              Congress of Industrial Organizations), Association of Trial Lawyers of America,
              the ABA (American Bankers Association), the NAM (National Association of
              Manufacturers), International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the AFT (American
              Federation of Teachers)

2.                   Citizen activist groups (G214)

a.                    These groups try to represent what the publics interest are often referred to as a public interest group

b.                   Started growing in the 1960’s

c.                    Main citizen activist groups include the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), the NARAL (National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League), the Sierra club, the LWV (League of Women Voters’ Voter Education Project, and the NOW (National Organization for Woman)

d.                   Single issue group: a group with an extremely narrow focus i.e. Nation Rifle Association (NRA)

3.                   Government-related interest groups (G215)

a.                    Efforts made by cities to ensure that they receive their share of federal funding and support of or against legislation. 

b.                   Types: National League of Cities, Conference of Mayors, International City Management Association, Council of State Governments, and etc. 

4.                    Foreign interest groups (G216)

a.                    Range from military/economic assistance to technical advice

b.                   Private sectors i.e. Amnesty International watch for any government repression and or torture of its citizens. 

II.                   Lobbyists (G216)

A.                  Type of person who works for an interest group or serves as a spokesperson for a specific set of interests. 

B.                   Who are lobbyists?

1.                 Lawyers, former members of the executive branch or of Congress

III.                 Political action committees (G216)

A.                  A organization set up of the sole purpose of donating money to campaigns of candidates who support particular goals

B.                   In 1970 congress passed the Federal Election Campaign Act which regulated the amount of money that can be used to support political campaign

IV.                What makes an interest group powerful (G218-222)

A.                  Size (G218)

1.                 Interest groups with a large membership have the potential to mobilize vast resources of money, information, time, and energy to service the issue

B.                   Unity (G219-G220)

1.                    A group’s power on an issue is strongly affected by the unity of its member.  When an interest group lacks unity on an issue, its influence on the policy making process drops considerably, even if the group is large. 

C.                   Leadership (G220)

1.             Interest groups must have leaders who command respect and who can articulate and represent the issues and demands of the organization

D.                  Information/expertise (G220)

1.                    What lobbyists know—their ability to collect information, evaluate its importance, and pass it on to appropriate government officials—is critical to their success. 

E.                   Money (G220-G222)

1.                    A large budget may not be the most critical resource of interest groups, but adequate funding is essential.

2.                    Free rider

a.                    People who benefit from the actions of interest groups without spending time or money to aid them

V.                  Interest Group Tactics (G222-G231)


A.                  Lobbying (G223-G224)

1.                    Contacting public officials: in person, by telephone, fax, e-mail, postcard, and                   letter

2.            Contributing: funds, loans, equipment, publicity, and volunteers

3.             Gaining office through election or appointment (overlapping membership / pp. 335, 344)

4.             Publicizing interest group views by influencing party platforms and molding public opinion

5.                    Promoting social movements – joining with groups and individuals sharing goals to engage mass mobilization, protest, demonstration, and other forms of direct action and civil disobedience

B.            Electioneering (G224-G227)

1.                    Participating in the election process by providing services of raising campaign donations

C.                  Building coalitions (G227)

1.                   Coalition building: bringing together of diverse interest groups in a common Lobbying effort

D.                  Grassroots pressure (G227-G228)

1.                    Lobbying by rank and file members of an interest group i.e. letter writing and or public protests to influence government

E.                   Litigation (G228-G229)

1.                    Many pressure groups use the courts to influence policy.  They bring direct suit, challenge existing laws ,or file briefs as “friends of the court” to support one side in cases already before the court

F.             Hard-line tactics (G231)

1.                    Civil disobedience

2.                    Operation Rescue (pro-life)


Other interest groups: AFSCME (American Federation of State, Country, and Municipal Employees) (G225), IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) (G225), SEIU (Service Employees International Union) (G225), UAW (United Auto Workers) (G225), and AICPA (American Institute of Certified Public Accountants) (G217) [additional interest groups (1)(2)]