Congress and the Executive Branch should focus on making the work of lobbyists and other paid influencers more transparent.
Money in Politics Disclosure
To uncover the levers of access and influence in Congress and the White House, real time online disclosure of money in politics must become the standard.
- Enact Legislation to Disclose Dark Money in Elections
- Appoint FEC Commissioners Committed to Transparency
- The IRS Should Tighten and Enforce Rules Regarding Electioneering Activities of Nonprofits
- The SEC Should Require Companies to Disclose Political Spending
- Improve the FCC's Political File Database
- Mandate Disclosure of Tax Returns and Bundlers by Presidential Candidates
- Enact Legislation to Disclose Corporate Political Spending to Shareholders
- Require Senators to Electronically File Campaign Finance Disclosure Reports
There is a wealth of government data that must be made accessible to the public.
- Create an Index of Federal Agencies' Major Datasets
- Enact the Public Online Information Act
- Enact the Access to Congressionally Mandated Reports Act
- Make Congressional Research Service Reports Publicly Available
- Implement the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act
- Adopt FOIA Reforms
- Review the Personal Financial Disclosure System
- Report Earmark Requests from Congress Online
Amend the Foreign Agents Registration Act
- All FARA forms should be electronically filed and information should be made available in a searchable, sortable, downloadable, and machine readable database.
- All information included in FARA forms, such as contacts with government officials, campaign contributions and expenses, should be reported in a standardized, uniform format.
- All supplemental forms, including meeting, propaganda, and contribution logs should be filed in real time and online.
- Lobbyists for foreign-owned companies should not be exempted from FARA reporting when they report under Lobbying Disclosure Act.
First enacted in 1938, FARA requires anyone who “represents the interests of such foreign principal before any agency or official of the Government of the United States” to register with the Justice Department. The law enumerates a number of exempted lobbyists, such as those representing commercial, nongovernmental interests or those who register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. The Justice Department is required to make the FARA database publicly available online.
FARA requires detailed reporting from those who lobby the U.S. government on behalf of foreign interests. Unfortunately, while valuable information is collected, it is often hidden from public view. Valuable information such as issues being advocated, members of Congress being lobbied and campaign contributions made by lobbyists are buried in unsearchable PDF documents. Electronic filing of reports, as is required of lobbyists under the LDA, would easily remedy the problem, allowing for the data to be searched and sorted. All reports should be filed in real time, instead of the current semi-annual reporting now required for updated or supplemental information.
Finally, lobbyists for foreign-owned corporations may currently file under the LDA instead of FARA. Because the LDA provides far less detailed information on lobbyists’ activities, lobbyists for foreign-owned corporations should be required to file under both Acts so as to accurately reflect and report all of their activities.