Stories on the Business of Compliance…A Brief History of Lobbying and Lobbyists - State and Federal Communications

February 22, 2017  •  

Stories on the Business of Compliance…A Brief History of Lobbying and Lobbyists

GabrielleWith this issue of LobbyComply, State and Federal Communications would like to introduce a new guest columnist, Washington D.C.-based Gabrielle Woodard, a student from Kent State University (KSU). She will be writing articles looking at the history of lobbying and political contribution, the emergence of the compliance laws and regulations governing these activities, and other interesting topics. Look for these articles to appear every few weeks. We look forward to her research and insightful writing.

Gabrielle is a senior public relations major at KSU with a minor in political science. She served as president of Kent State’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America during 2015-2016. Gabrielle spent the spring of 2015 participating in the Washington Program in National Issues and interned in the Office of Legislative Affairs within the Federal Communications Commission. She then spent her last two summers in Baltimore as a communications intern for Northrop Grumman, an international defense contractor. Gabrielle is spending this semester in Washington, D.C. and pursuing a career in government relations.

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It is believed that lobbying began in the 1640s when political discussions and bargaining were held in the lobbies of the chambers of the British Parliament. The term “lobbyist” came from “lobby member” (who worked in a lobby where public officials were meeting.) The term “Lobbying” was first mentioned in print.

The term lobbyist was first used in 1831 in a reference to Ohio politics. The term quickly was adopted to label anyone who discussed issues with lawmakers based on special interest. President Ulysses S. Grant (serving from 1869-1877), who often visited Washington, D.C.’s Willard Hotel to smoke and engage in deals, made further use of the word “lobbyists” complaining they were there asking for legislative favors.

The first recorded person in the United States lobbying was William Hull, who was seeking additional compensation for the Veterans of the Continental Army.

Gifting to lawmakers began in the 1850s when Samuel Colt, the gunmaker, gifted guns to legislative leaders and their families, including a firearm to a congressman’s 12-year-old son.

Sources: The Center for Responsive Politics; RedState, WELOVEDEC; Bloomberg; and The Christian Science Monitor.

NEXT ARTICLE: The origins of lobbying disclosure laws.


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