The recent article about what firms and associations spend to lobby the Postal Service (See Lobbying the Postal Service Is a Multimillion-Dollar Business) has spurred several questions.
Most people think of lobbying as an effort to sway legislators, but it also includes trying to influence the decisions of government agencies. After all, changes in postal regulations or procedures, which are generally not subject to Congressional approval, can benefit or hurt major mailers to the tune of many millions of dollars.
The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 says lobbying can include communication with executive-branch officials that is made on behalf of a client regarding rules, regulations, programs, policies, and the awarding of contracts. It also includes "research and other background work that is intended . . . for use in contacts" with federal officials. It does not include donations to political campaigns or other causes.
Details are sketchy, but much of the money for lobbying the Postal Service apparently went to lawyers. Pitney Bowes, for example, paid high-powered law firm K&L Gates more than $1 million last year for its dealing with the Postal Service (plus another $1 million to lobby the Postal Regulatory Commission).