Lobbying has existed for quite some time and many politicians have "wised up" as to who they are and what their target is. All of the petitions you sign do not matter; they go straight to the "junk mail" box. If you sign a petition, you are lobbying. However, key lobbyists do enjoy drastic amounts of power and "money talks (to politicians)". In the past decade, Washington has exploded w/ more lobby organizations than you can imagine; most of them quite menial such as the "Cannabis Action League" (the 3rd largest marijuana lobby group) or "Feminists against Fur", etc. Even traditionally strong lobbies have resorted to a new tactic. While still using chain letters and conventional bribes, a plan was devised (and mimicked by many lobby organizations) by the Christian Coalition to tackle this problem of Washington overlooking their conventional methods. The most effective lobbyists now are not actually lobbyists, merely contractors for lobby groups. Many lobbies acknowledge their diminishing power in comparison to those who are gaining power, and have resorted to this tactic. Who are the contractors? Friends of the "targeted politician" from high school, college, teams, churches, etc. Making it appear as mere coincidence, many of these "friends" run into their "old buddy" and say, "Let's grab a bite to eat or a beer". The "friend" then presents the agenda he or she has been paid to present and acts like it is no big deal, simply something they have been thinking about. Months later, after several politicians have been "inoculated by friends", a lobby group will start pushing for a similar proposal and the politicians will jump on board and accept bribes much more readily than they would if their "personal friend" was not also concerned over this matter. Bottom Line- we have covert lobbyists in America and that is simply sad.