Lobbying was never actually illegal. The term was first coined in 1832, but the concept of citizens asking for legislative favors has been practiced since the mid-1600s. In America, the Constitution protects lobbyists. In 1946, Congress passed the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act, which required lobbyists to register if they were being paid to be a representative. However, in 1954 it was challenged and changed to apply only to lobbyists dealing directly with legislation currently in progress. In 1995, the Lobbying Disclosure Act was enacted in place of the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act and required lobbyists to register and report their money spending above a certain amount. These legislatures are the extent of control that the government has on lobbyists.
The first amendment of the constitution reads something like this. The right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances” is why lobbying is legal, and why it will never go away completely. The terrifying aspect, is that lobbying has become a multi-billion dollar industry. 13,471 lobbyists made roughly 3.47 billion dollars last year. That’s an average income of $252,528.00. I don’t think the founding fathers even considered the object of money when penning this clause.
Cornell University has a nice overview of the first amendment here.
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