Real Lobbying Disclosure: Before or After the Fact?


Soon-to-be ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Rep. Darrell Issa issued a letter demanding Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac turn over nine years of lobbying records to the committee. First of all, one would hope that this disclosure would be placed in the public record for all to see. Secondly, Issa’s demand brings up an important issue: Lobbyist disclosure in its current form is inadequate for determining and dissuading undue influence seeking.

Among other things, current lobbyist disclosure does not require the disclosure of contacts made between lobbyists and congressional offices. This appears to be the type of information that Issa seeks. Why must we wait until things fall apart to go back and require disclosure (especially in the context of a partisan tit-for-tat about who caused the financial crisis)? Full and complete disclosure should be required early to prevent this kind of behavior, not used after the fact.

Similarly, disclosure should not be targeted, but should cover all lobbyists. I want to know the activities of financial services lobbyists just as much as Fannie and Freddie lobbyists. I’d especially like to know this considering that AIG and Citigroup are still funding K Street influence peddlers, while Fannie and Freddie have shuttered their lobby shops.

Here’s a reasonable proposal that could prevent the abuses in the lobbying world that led us into this current mess.