Interest groups spend a lot of effort lobbying the government for their respective causes. While much of what they do is guaranteed under the free-speech protections of the First Amendment, there are also some regulations to prevent corruption and abuse.
First of all, lobbyists from an interest group must be properly registered before they can lobby issues to Congress. In accordance with the Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act of 1946, lobbyists from interest groups must disclose their group's goal, their salary, and their reimbursed expenses. If an interest group originates outside of the country, it must also register with the Department of Justice. Furthermore, the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 closed several older loopholes in how interest groups are registered with the federal government. The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 sets limits on the type of contact that members of Congress can have with certain members of interest groups.
In an effort to eliminate bribery, members of Congress and public officials cannot accept large gifts or payments from interest groups. Donations to organizations run by or named after members of Congress must be disclosed. However, there are acceptable ways in which these groups can donate to an election campaign. However, certain regulations require that this money be disclosed.
One further way that interest groups are regulated concerns limiting a concept known as the revolving door. There are regulations that prevent former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists immediately after leaving office.
Punishments for violating these regulations vary. They can include losing the right to lobby, fines, and in some cases imprisonment.