Lobby: To conduct activities (as engaging in personal contacts or the dissemination of information) with the objective of influencing public officials and especially members of a legislative body with regard to legislation and other policy decisions.

- Webster's Third
New International Dictionary

WASHINGTON - In Washington, a third inevitability could be added to Benjamin Franklin's adage about death and taxes - whatever happens, the lobbyists will prosper. The term, if not the art, was coined in Washington to describe job and pension seekers who laid in wait in the lobby of the Willard Hotel for President Ulysses S. Grant, who frequented the establishment's restaurant.

Today, the heart of Washington's business district is so thick with firms and individuals that proffer access and influence that it is known as "Gucci gulch."

A law that went into force this year has cast a dim beam on the activities of Washington's power brokers and has revealed that the biotech industry has put a shine on a number of Gucci shoes this year (see online reference, above).