Following up on the previous post, I took a look at the Baird bill (H.R. 682) to require disclosure of political intelligence firms and consultants and to require increased disclosure of lawmaker investments in stocks and futures. There is really only one major point in the registration and disclosure required for political intelligence consultants that is worth pointing out. That is the difference between who qualifies as a political intelligence consultant in Baird’s bill and who qualifies as a lobbyist under the Lobbyist Disclosure Act of 1995 (LDA).
Here’s the LDA:
Sec. 3 (10) LOBBYIST.—The term ”lobbyist” means any individual who is employed or retained by a client for financial or other compensation for services that include more than one lobbying contact, other than an individual whose lobbying activities constitute less than 20 percent of the time engaged in the services provided by such individual to that client over a 3-month period.
And from H.R. 682:
‘(20) POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE CONSULTANT- The term ‘political intelligence consultant’ means any individual who is employed or retained by a client for financial or other compensation for services that include one or more political intelligence contacts.’.
The major difference is the lack of a 20 percent rule in Baird’s bill. Lobbyists do not have to register if they spend less than 20 percent of their time making lobbying contacts. This creates a whole class of crypto-lobbyists known formally as consultants. We’ve documented the poster boy for this line of work, Tom Daschle, previously.
The definition for political intelligence consultants in Baird’s bill is much more to my liking than the definition of lobbyists. Maybe starting to include more peddlers of influence under the LDA will open the bill up to the further changes that myself and the rest of the Sunlight crew believe is necessary.