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THE ROOTS OF the word lobby go back to the days when people, who wanted to meet and talk with Members of Parliament in Britain would gather in the entry hall, the lobby, of the British House of Commons. Over time, the word has been most commonly used to refer to in-person contact between legislators and interest-group representatives.

While the most literal definition of lobbying would include only face-to-face contact with elected members, more generally it has come to also include contact with the bureaucracy, courts, and the president as well as the legislature. More broadly still, it has been used to refer to grassroots campaigns, mass media promotions, and the dissemination of research reports. The most basic definition then would be efforts to influence ...

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