Public interest groups are basically any organized group of people or associations that band together for the purpose of communicating their positions to government decision-makers and, when they deem it necessary, agitating for changes in government policy. Virtually every issue that comes before government decision-makers involves a group with a vested or social interest that seeks to have its views heard by those making the decisions. This can include groups devoted to protecting the environment, cutting or increasing spending on defense, reforming the country’s health care system, supporting or opposing changes in government policies on immigration, and much, much more. Such groups are composed of members who feel very strongly about their positions, and seek out members of legislative bodies from whom they hope to receive support, and identify members of legislative bodies who they anticipate will oppose them.
The federal government maintains increasingly strict – although still sometimes circumvented and violated – regulations pertaining to lobbying government officials from both the Executive and Legislative Branches. A long history of scandals involving improper relationships between individuals and groups lobbying members of Congress have spurred continuous efforts at reforming the rules and guidelines involving the interaction between government officials and public or special interest groups. The role of such groups is a vital and fundamental component of democracies, though, as they serve as an effective means of communicating with elected officials and others on legitimate issues of concern that might otherwise go unheard.