With the new Congress, many former members and staffers are now legal to lobby. But the law's so full of loopholes that it hasn't stopped many from entering the influence game before their "cooling off" period expires.Continue reading
Erring on the side of shady: How calling out “lobbyists” drove them underground
Recent disclosure measures were supposed to provide more accurate reporting of who lobbyists were and what they did. Instead, they just drove lobbying underground, making it harder to track than ever.Continue reading
Do certain provisions in the health care bill violate disclosure requirements?
Earlier this week, Sen. Tom Coburn and a group of Republican senators sent a letter to Majority Leader Harry Reid... View ArticleContinue reading
Appetite for Disclosure
Not everyone has that kind of appetite apparently. Businesses and lobbying firms are still complaining about the disclosure of contributions... View ArticleContinue reading
Wynn Tests New Transparency Laws
Lame duck Rep. Al Wynn, recently defeated in a Democratic primary, announced that he would be retiring from Congress early to take a lobbying job with the law firm Dickstein Shapiro this June. Unlike previous members who have announced their retirement through the revolving door Wynn will remain in Congress, with a fully negotiated and signed contract to work at the firm, until June, giving him unparralleled access for a newly minted lobbyist. Dickstein Shapiro has already released a press release announcing the hire. Unlike Wynn, Trent Lott, Richard Baker, and Billy Tauzin all retired quickly upon announcing their completed lobbying job negotiations. This poses serious conflict of interest questions for Wynn but also serves as a true test of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act and its provisions governing member job negotiations (a provision already filled with loopholes). The Point of Order blog explains:Continue reading
New Lobbyist Disclosure Rules Under Attack
Last Friday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed an amicus brief in support of the disclosure requirements of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 (HLOGA), joining the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21 and Public Citizen in defending the disclosure provisions. All were in response to the National Association of Manufacturers who earlier in February had filed suit in federal court challenging the disclosure provisions and saying they are "vague, overbroad and burdensome" and were in violation of the First Amendment.
HLOGA 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.Continue reading
New Filing Requirements Will Reveal New Information
Here's a pleasant surprise in the just passed Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA). One of the law's new filing requirements is that individual lobbyists have to report all "covered official positions" held for 20 years prior to their current filing period. This could provide an amazing amount of new information about where people have lobbied in the past -- information that we've never seen before.
The new provision will be quite significant for lobbying firms. For them, the 20-year lookback applies to all lobbyists listed on any new registration filed for any client with an effective date of Jan. 1, 2008 or later. For most lobbying firms, this means that eventually all lobbyist employees will need to disclose their prior employment under the 20-year lookback.Continue reading