n. The leadership in a community or organization.
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The companies specialize in a cutting-edge form of influence peddling called "grass tops," which attempts to get prominent local citizens and organizations to lobby on behalf of interest groups. Unlike conventional lobbying, the technique does not require the firms' principals to meet with or even talk to lawmakers. The advocacy is indirect.
—Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, “Lobbyists Try to Parlay a Presidential Campaign,” The Washington Post, April 12, 2004
Depending on the circumstances, the roundtable is looking to help its favored candidates in as many as two dozen districts through issue ads and "grasstops" efforts that involve reaching out to political, business, and civic leaders in the community.
—Peter H. Stone, “Business Readies Its Battle Plans,” The National Journal, February 07, 2004
1992 (earliest)
A better way to influence legislation is what we call the "grassTOPS" approach—mobilizing influential leaders in each community who can reach lawmakers at the federal, state and local levels, with facts tailored to their district's interests.
—Edward M. Gabriel, “The changing face of public affairs in Washington,” Public Relations Quarterly, December 22, 1992
This term is a play on grassroots, "the ordinary people of a community or organization." Since at least 1912 the word grassroots has been used mostly in a political context, where it refers to the rank-and-file of the electorate, a political party, or some other political organization. If the grassroots form the base of the political pyramid, the grasstops form the apex, the small group that consists of the elite and powerful members of the body politic.
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