From grass + tops, by analogy with grassroots.
grass tops (not comparable)
- (idiomatic) Of, related to, or involving local influential figures.
1998, Dan Clawson; Alan Neustadtl; Mark Weller, Dollars and Votes: How Business Campaign Contributions Subvert Democracy, Philadelphia, Pa.: Temple University Press, →ISBN, page 12:
- Along with the ads, industry worked to mobilize local politicians and business executives in what business groups called a "grass tops" campaign.
2003 November 6, Cara Gardner, “Prepping for surgery”, in The Pacific Northwest Inlander, archived from the original on 26 September 2015:
- "Some of the work is grassroots," he said, "and some of it is grass-tops – like this summit."
2015, James E. Anderson, “The Policy-makers and Their Environment”, in Public Policymaking: An Introduction, 8th edition, Stamford, Ct.: Cengage Learning, →ISBN, page 64:
- In recent years, groups have made considerable use of "outside lobbying" techniques, which try to persuade ordinary citizens to serve as their frontline advocates. Prominent here are "grass-roots" and "grass-tops" lobbying. […] Grass-tops lobbying strives to favorably energize an elite rather than the masses.
- (idiomatic, plural only) People in a position of power or influence at a local level.
2007, David G. Smith; Judith D. Moore, Medicaid Politics and Policy, 1965–2007, New Brunswick, N.J.; London: Transaction Publishers, →ISBN, page 234:
- They also had important connections to advocacy groups and the local "grass tops."
2012 December 3, Sophie Yan, “New group seeks to incite political action”, in The Brown Daily Herald, archived from the original on 11 December 2013:
- "We are grassroots, not grass-tops," Kaplan said, meaning Common Sense Action seeks the opinions of all members regardless of leadership status within the group.
- plural of grass top.