As the Legal Times‘ Influence Blog predicted yesterday, the new lobbying and ethics law received its first legal challenge. Earlier today, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) announced it is suing the federal government over the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 saying the law’s lobbying disclosure rules are "vague, overbroad and burdensome" and infringe on the constitutional right of freedom of association.
Note that the law requires any organization actively participating "in the planning, supervision, or control" of lobbying efforts that ponies up more than $5,000 in a quarter to disclose their activities and expenditures. The law’s purpose is to shine a light on stealth lobbying and sham coalitions, pushing legislation such as those that are often promoted by groups like NAM. The law’s criminal penalties on groups that fail to accurately disclose their lobby efforts succeeded at getting their attention. NAM says that the clause in question is imprecise and impacts groups that it is not intended to target. They fear the law will also require it to disclose the names of its members. NAM has requested the court issue a preliminary injunction on the disclosure rules until the court decides the case.
In November, NAM and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to the Senate secretary and the House clerk asking for a clarification in how lobbying disclosure rules will be applied.