WHO WE ARE
We are a national organization representing lobbying, public policy, and government affairs professionals. Our mission is to promote professionalism, competence, and high ethical standards through education. We work to provide a unified voice for the profession and the Constitution’s First Amendment right to petition government.
Above all else, NILE is committed to promoting ethical lobbying. Members of our board of directors have been at the forefront of both calling for and helping to write laws that require federal lobbyists to register with Congress. We promote transparency so that anyone can go online and see who our clients are, what issues we are working on, and how much we are paid.
NILE prescribes a strong Code of Ethics for its members to follow, as well as, a rigorous Public Policy Certificate Program that assures lobbyists have a complete knowledge of the legislative and regulatory processes.
WHO HIRES A LOBBYIST?
It is a common misconception to believe that only ‘big money’ corporations have lobbyists, the fact is that practically everyone and every issue is represented by lobbyists.
Each individual, business, association, or non-profit can go to Washington, DC or State Capitols, on their own to ask Congress to respond to their needs. However, public policy professionals know the intricacies of the process – who to talk to, how and when to present an effective argument, and what needs to be done to follow-up. Lobbyists and public policy professionals also serve as valuable sources of information and education for elected officials to tap into to better understand how their decisions affect their constituents and the country overall.
WHAT IS LOBBYING?
It is a lobbyist’s job to represent their client’s interests by educating lawmakers and their staff about the effect any proposed legislation or regulation will have on their client. This process is addressed in the First Amendment of the Constitution:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
Lobbying is advocacy of a point of view, either by groups or individuals. A special interest is nothing more than an identified group expressing a point of view — be it colleges and universities, churches, charities, public interest or environmental groups, senior citizens organizations, even state, local or foreign governments. While most people think of lobbyists only as paid professionals, there are also many independent, volunteer lobbyists — all of whom are protected by the same First Amendment.
THE ACT OF LOBBYING
Lobbying is a legitimate and necessary part of our democratic political process. Government decisions affect both people and organizations, and information must be provided in order to produce informed decisions. Public officials cannot make fair and informed decisions without considering information from a broad range of interested parties. All sides of an issue must be explored in order to produce equitable government policies.
Lobbying involves much more than persuading legislators. Its principal elements include:
researching and analyzing legislation or regulatory proposals;
monitoring and reporting on developments;
attending congressional or regulatory hearings;
working with coalitions interested in the same issues; and
educating government officials, employees, and corporate officers as to the implications of various changes.
What many people regard as lobbying — the actual communication with government officials — represents the smallest portion of a lobbyist’s time; a far greater proportion is devoted to the other aspects of preparation, information and communication.