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Sunlight Foundation Proposes How the Obama Administration Can Improve Lobbying Disclosure

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 8, 2009

Contact: Gabriela Schneider 202/742-1520

WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday, the Sunlight Foundation unveiled designs for a model system of Web-based lobbying reporting — both disclosure forms and methods of aggregating such data. This system demonstrates how the Obama administration can fulfill and broaden the president’s new policies to provide more transparency about lobbying executive branch officials.

Sunlight proposes a single Web site administered by the executive branch that would aggregate lobbying disclosures from officials from across the executive branch. The Web-based lobbying disclosure process allows for real time reporting, after each lobbying meeting is held with agency employees covered by disclosure rules. They would report their name and agency, the lobbyist with whom they met, any clients the lobbyist represents and other detailed information.

The online disclosure process designed by Sunlight would create a single view of all paid lobbying, allowing the public to track lobbying meetings. It would be sortable by lobbyist, official, agency, subject matter, lobbyist’s client and date. Sunlight’s proposed disclosure system would give Americans unprecedented access to monitor and analyze real time information about lobbying.

“We think the president is headed in the right direction: More real time, online disclosure of lobbying activity,” said Sunlight Foundation Policy Director John Wonderlich. “To facilitate that, we have modeled what real time lobbying disclosure actually looks like. Imagine having this sort of information from across the federal government right now — being able to track who's lobbying, and what each of those discussions is about.”

Sunlight has long advocated for more lobbying reform within both Congress and the executive branch. It specifically advocates:

1. Expanding the definition of who lobbies, and what counts as lobbying to include anyone paid to engage in direct issue advocacy with lawmakers, staff and executive branch officials.

2. Requiring lobbying disclosure in real time, online. Sunlight believes lobbying disclosure is only as effective as it is timely and detailed. The substance of lobbying contacts should be disclosed in real time, and in substantive detail.

The Sunlight Foundation is a non-partisan nonprofit dedicated to using the power of the Internet to catalyze greater government openness and transparency. Visit SunlightFoundation.com to learn more about Sunlight’s projects, including The Open Senate Project, Capitol Words and OpenCongress.
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