Congress and the Lobbyists

 

INVESTIGATIVE REPORT:
 "THE CASH CONSTITUENTS OF CONGRESS"

PART I: THE LOBBYISTS

This extended seminar will investigate the relationships between Congress and the lobbyists. During the next three weeks you will develop an investigative report which will ultimately answer the question "Does Congress represent the needs of its public constituency (the electorate) or its financial constituency (its contributors)? Weekly seminar abstracts will be used to prepare Tabloid TV-style PowerPoint report in support of your investigation.

 Goals:

1. To develop an understanding for the relations between the Lobbyists and Congress.

2. To develop background in specific contemporary issues.

3. To prepare an investigative report and presentation.

 Readings:

Background readings about Lobbies and Congress in Wilson: Ch. 9 and 11

This investigation will be based in part on the book The Cash Constituents of Congress, Makinson, Congressional Quarterly Press. This book is a detailed study of the patterns of campaign contributions to the congressional election of 1992. Copies of this book are on reserve in our library.

Much of this book in updated form also resides at the Website: Center for Responsive Politics at http://www.crp.org/

 

Week 1:

You will be assigned to investigate one of the following "Industry Profiles" in The Cash Constituents of Congress and the CRP website.

  • Agriculture

  • Communications and Electronics

  • Defense

  • Labor

They can be found in the Book in Chapter 2: "Industry Profiles"

At the CRP Website the categories are called "Special Interests" and can be found at http://www.crp.org/

YOUR ASSIGNMENT INCLUDES THREE COMPONENTS

1. Prepare an abstract of the "Industry Profile" which includes:

What types of businesses, industries, professional associations are included in this group?

Who are some of the major contributors in this classification?

What patterns do their financial contributions to Congress take?

a. To the House or Senate

b. To which committees

c. To challengers or incumbents

d. To Republicans or Democrats

How can the patterns of financial contributions be explained?

2. Prepare an abstract of at least one example of the lobby efforts of your group or one of its members. This section should describe this lobby effort and include:

  • The legislation or policy in question

  • The position taken by your interest group

  • The lobby effort mounted by the interest group

  • The final outcome of the proposal or its current status if yet unresolved.

Note: This section of the research will be greatly aided by investigations done by the Center for Responsive Politics that can be found at its website: http://www.crp.org/

  • Agriculture

  • Communications and Electronics

  • Defense

  • Labor

Also the Congressional Websites at:

Thomas http://thomas.loc.gov/

3. Prepare a single written report which includes the elements of each of the abstracts above in A and B. The seminar will turn in one report with the contributions of each member clearly identified.

Week 2

Overview: Your seminar will turn its attention to investigating the efforts of a specific members of Congress, their legislative record and their relationship with their constituency and financial contributors.

 Source Material

All the material used in the last seminar. PLUS:

Politics in America (reserve)

The Almanac of American Politics (reserve)

These two sources profile each member of Congress, their state or district, their voting records, patterns and ratings on key issues.

"Member Profiles" pages 171 - 303 of Cash Constituents of Congress will give you a state-by-state analysis of specific members of Congress in 1992 as well as an analysis of election spending and results from each district.

Internet resources: from Part 1

Assignment:

Choose a member of the House or Senate (one per seminar member) who received contributions from the Industry you profiled in Part 1.

Produce a profile of each, which includes:

  • Their committee assignment (chairmanship or subcommittee assignments)

  • Their voting patterns and ratings

  • Key legislative accomplishments

  • Their major contributors

  • Their campaign expenditures and election results

  • Your assessment of whether they were more responsive to their elective constituency or their financial contributors.

Seminar members will turn in their Part II abstract in seminar.

Week 3

In this phase of the project seminar members will produce a PowerPoint presentation, which highlight the findings of the first two parts: Lobbyists and Congress.

It will be produced in an investigative tabloid- TV style format - hard-hitting and investigative. "Tonight on Hard Copy we take you inside the sleazy side of Washington!"

The 20 minute presentation should serve as a case study in response to the question "Does Congress represent its elective or financial constituency?"

October 30 and 31 will be available as workdays.

November 3 and 4th will be reserves for presentations.

On November 5th you will have an exam details to be announced.

 

 Peter Pappas 
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Blog: peterpappas.com/ 
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