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
Require Disclosure by Political Intelligence Firms
Amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act to require “political intelligence” firms that specialize in gathering nonpublic information from Hill sources to register with the House and Senate, as lobbying firms are required to do.
Political intelligence firms use nonpublic information from Hill sources to enrich investors and manipulate stock markets. Political intelligence is an opaque multi-million dollar industry that enables hedge funds and other institutional investors to enrich investors and manipulate markets.
A proposal to amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act to subject political intelligence firms to its registration, reporting, and disclosure requirements was included in the STOCK Act that passed the Senate by an overwhelming 96 to 3 majority. A House version also had enough cosponsors to pass, however, House Republican leadership opted to strip the political intelligence disclosure language from the bill prior to bringing it to the floor. Ultimately, the Senate followed suit, passing a bill that did not address political intelligence.
Political intelligence professionals can earn $600 an hour to track information that might influence their decision to buy or sell certain stocks. For example, one political intelligence expert was hired to attend a breakfast with Democratic leaders to track the likelihood that an amendment capping debit card fees would be included in the Dodd Frank legislation. Whether the amendment passed would impact the price of stock in companies like Visa and MasterCard and the information would be valuable to investors, especially if they had the information before the general public. Another example concerned the legalization of Internet gambling. Widespread opinion was that legislation would move, however one political intelligence professional hired to follow the issue determined that the bill would not be pursued, providing information that could impact the price of gaming industry stock.
Political Intelligence disclosure would not prohibit the gathering of such information nor would it require political intelligence professionals to disclose publicly the information they gathered. It would simply require people like former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and former Treasury Secretary John Snow to register and report when they contact elected officials to gain information to be used in making investment decisions.