Frequently Asked Questions

BASICS

Who can lobby?

Every citizen has the right to lobby their government or to hire a lobbyist to represent them.

What is iLobby?

iLobby is a micro-lobbying service that connects you with other people to quickly find the best lobbyist that matches your issues to help you resolve issues with the government.

How does it work?

iLobby matches political issues that affect you with other like-minded people. Together, you clarify your message through debate, pool your financial resources and then retain a lobbyist to represent your cause. We think of it as your personal persuasion platform.

Can anyone use iLobby?

Yes. Please read our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Do I have to be a citizen to browse the site?

No.

What is a debate?

A debate is like a contest. There are two sides. One side supports an issue. The other side opposes it. Through arguments and votes back and forth, eventually one side prevails.

What are arguments?

You argue on one side or the other with facts, just like we do in real life.

What is an issue?

Anything political that bugs you.

What is a position?

A position is a stance you take either for or against an issue.

How many Members of Congress do I have?

At the federal level you have one Congressman and two Senators. At the State level in California (for instance) you also have one Assembly Member and one State Senator.

What is a constituent?

A constituent is generally a registered voter who has elected a representative to represent their views.

It sounds like I could find other people who share the same issue or problems as me?

Yes. That is correct. In your district, your city, your town or state or any part of the country.

Can I look at issues in other districts?

Yes.

How long does it take to pass a bill into law?

It can sometimes take as long as 5-7 years. When there is more broad support, it can be quicker.

Do I have to be a registered voter to vote on your site?

No. But you do have to be an authenticated user and eligible voter to create a debate argue or pledge money to a cause.

Who can lobby?

Every citizen has the right to lobby their government or to hire a lobbyist to represent them.

What can I do about a proposed law?

You can support, oppose, amend or watch it.

Can I open multiple debates, vote on different issues and support different lobbyists?

Yes. iLobby is flexible and allows you to do that.

Why do I need a professional lobbyist?

When you act alone you are a voice of one. When you hire a lobbyist, the firm represents hundreds or thousands of constituents in many congressional districts. The lobbyist is an expert in your issues and knows his way around Washington and the State capitols including the specific staff, committees and subcommittees that will influence the legislation that you are concerned about. This gives you and the lobbyist more power.

Why should I lobby?

iLobby helps you redress grievances with the government so you have more of a real say and impact in what happens in your community and our country.

What is the best way to influence a legislator?

Your personal story and how a law affects you in your district trump all. Combined with thousands of other constituent voices with a clear message, focus on an issue and economic persistence, this becomes very powerful.

What if I don't have any big issues that concern me?

Lots of other people and businesses have issues that need to be addressed. You could look at their issues, debates and their arguments and you could take a position and join forces with them.

What is the end game?

The end game is to change legislation, get new and better laws or get rid of old out-of-date laws. It is up to your Representative to either support or oppose the legislation that you believe in and this is expressed through their votes. Sometimes, the legislative change you want is just a matter of editing a few precise words or lines in an exisiting Act or Bill.

Does lobbying take a long time?

You can take action very quickly on the site. Getting the government to act can take longer. Congress is not a start-up. By its nature the legislature is a deliberative body. They need to get buy-in from a majority before a bill works its way through the process and becomes law.

Are you saying we can just hire a lobbyist?

Yes. Large corporations, trade unions and associations, special interests, cities and universities all regularly hire lobbyists to present their point of view and educate legislators on issues. So can you.

If my Representative votes the way I want, does that mean I have won?

Not exactly. The Representative still needs to convince a majority of the member body to vote similarly in the House and the Senate and for the President to sign a bill into law.

Who could oppose me?

Everyone who disagrees with your position on an issue.

Why can't I petition members of Congress in another state who support my issue?

You can only appeal to your Representative. The law prevents a Member of Congress from incurring any expenses on behalf of a non-constituent. This means you work with your representatives in your district but you may ask them to petition other members of Congress on your behalf by writing a "Dear Colleague" letter.

CONNECT

What is the purpose of the Connect screen?

Connect allows you to list the top 3 issues that are important to you. From there you can find debates on the issues, other constituents who have voted on similar issues or Representatives who have stated that they are either for against the issues you've listed.

Do you save my issues?

Yes, your top three issues are saved in your personal account profile and you can change them at any time.

DEBATE (1) BEFORE

What are the debate topics or issues?

They can be anything. The caucus leader sets the issues or political concerns that are important to him or her.

Who is the Caucus Leader?

The Caucus Leader is any authenticated user who starts a debate.

What can a Caucus Leader do?

A Caucus Leader has three key powers:

1. They define the issue, the category and the timeline.

2. They post the first argument.

3. They Chair the Debate Committee that oversees hiring and managing a lobbyist.

What does the Debate Committee do?

The Debate Committee is composed of three members and oversees hiring and managing the lobbyist.

Who sits on the Debate Committee?

The Caucus Leader and the top two users who posted positive arguments that won the highest number of votes.

How many sides are there in a debate?

Two sides. These are called positions. You either support or oppose an issue.

If I made a mistake or said something stupid can I change my argument or rebuttal or cancel it completely?

Yes, but you have to do it before someone votes on it. After that it is locked.

How many votes does a user get?

A user gets 3 votes.

How long is a debate?

Debates last 3, 5, 7, 30 or 90 days.

If I create an argument, can I vote for it?

Yes.

How many arguments can a user create?

Each user can enter 1 argument or 1 rebuttal.

Are there a maximum number of arguments and rebuttals?

No.

Who can start a debate?

Any authenticated user who is an eligible voter

What happens when you start a debate?

When you start a debate, you become the Caucus Leader. It's similar to a moderator but you get special privileges.

Do you have to be a registered voter to be a Caucus Leader?

No. But you must be an eligible voter and at least one member of the Debate Committee must be a registered voter in the district where their Representative will address their issue.

DEBATE (2) DURING

What happens during the debate?

Users create arguments for or against an issue and users can vote for the strongest arguments or rebuttals.

What happens when the debate ends?

When the debate ends, votes are tallied on either side. The side with the most votes wins. A recommendation is posted showing the results.

What happens next?

A user can pledge money to support the winning debate. If the money pledged meets the budget, the caucus leader can form the debate committee which oversees matching up the issue with a lobbyist. Once this happens, it is called a Campaign.

DEBATE (3) AFTER

Does the caucus leader select the lobbyist by himself?

No. There are two other members of the Debate Committee but they don't get selected till the debate ends.

How are the Debate Committee members chosen?

The caucus leader is the chair of the debate committee. This is the person who started the debate. Then, two argument winners are chosen. They are the top winners from the same side as the caucus leader and that received the most votes for their arguments. Arguments with the highest number of votes rise to the top and the caucus leader, #2 and #3 form the committee.

What is the minimum amount required to hire a lobbyist?

The minimum amount required to hire a lobbyist is set at $5,000 but it can be much higher.

What if a top argument winner can't or doesn't want to serve on the debate committee?

If a winner chooses not to serve, then the next highest winning argument winner is selected.

What if the lobbyist comes in under budget and does not use all the funds you collected?

iLobby shows the unused balance in your account and you can use it for a different debate in the future.

ENGAGE

Are there other things I can do to persuade my Representative to agree with my position?

Yes you can e-mail your legislator, call him, write him or arrange an in-person meeting with other constituents from your district.

What does engage mean?

You can join with other constituents to retain a lobbyist to advocate on your behalf.

What may I ask my Representative to do besides lobbying?

You can ask her to support or oppose legislation to sponsor or cosponsor legislation or to write a "Dear Colleague" letter to other Members of Congress.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

Do campaign contributions have more influence than lobbying?

Some people think so but politicians are required to keep money separate from issues. Otherwise it looks like quid-pro-quo.

If I want to make a campaign contribution to my Congressman, do you support that?

No. We focus on issues. Most Representatives have their own campaign websites that you can go to and support them for re-election.

Why are issues so important?

Issues represent problems. Laws identify solutions. But if issues are not publicly debated the solution may favor one special interest or group over another and we end up with bad or unfair law or an inadequate solution.

LEGAL

Is lobbying legal?

Yes, as citizens we may petition our government for redress of grievances. This is guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.

Why don't more people lobby?

Lobbying is generally expensive and time consuming but by joining with others you can share the cost and enjoy the results.

Is iLobby a lobbyist?

No. By the strict federal definition under the LDA ("Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995") iLobby is not a registered lobbyist nor do we meet the minimum requirements. We simply help you connect with other constituents to find a lobbyist that meets your needs.

If I sign-up with iLobby, am I a lobbyist?

No. If an individual or a small group lobbies a politician for their own benefit, they do not meet the minimum requirements as a lobbyist. When your group hires a lobbyist you become a client of the lobbyist.

METHODOLOGY

What is the iLobby index?

The iLobby index represents the median of the top 25% of upper scoring members of Congress. We believe it sets a high benchmark for other members to aspire to and acts as a way for a representative or senator to compare themselves to the best congressional members.

What factors are considered that make up the iLobby index?

The index is composed of 10 key attributes based on the performance of the member. It factors in three broad areas. These are ethics, leadership and results. Education, election results and the ratio of successful legislation are several of the attributes that are included.

What factors are ignored?

We do not consider political party, age, sex, race, religion, gender preference, national origin or other personal attributes. None of these have an impact on the score of the individual Representative.

Can a Representative change his score or game the system?

No. It would be hard for a Representative to change his score, not without a lot of hard work. Increasing their legislative ability with their constituents and their peers or undertaking further personal educational or professional improvement in their lives can, over time, improve the score.

Why do you rate politicians?

We want to make it easy for you to compare them from one district to the next, from one time period to another.

PLEDGE

How do I pledge?

Enter your pledge amount and complete the checkout process.

When is my credit card charged?

If this debate is successfully funded and wins, your credit card will be charged along with the other supporters of this debate when it ends.

Am I only charged if funding succeeds?

Yes. If a debate isn't successully funded, no one pays anything. Contact "billing@ilobby.co

REPORTING

Do lobbyists have any reporting requirements?

Yes. Lobbyists file form LD-203 on a semi-annual basis with the Clerk of the Senate (SOPR - Senate Office of Public Records) and with their State government offices. These reports are public and provide detail that the government has required on their lobbying activity, clients finances and matters under discussion.

Can I query lobbyists' reports?

Yes. This is available directly from the U.S. Government.

How do you know if a lobbyist is doing a good job?

On a regular basis the lobbyist will report back to the Debate Committee and all users who pledged to the debate giving an ongoing record of his progress on the issue.