After a summer of debate, the EU working group responsible for reviewing the joint lobbyist register of the European Commission and European Parliament is poised to make recommendations for the future of the register. Strong regulations can shed light on how lobbyists shape the policy making process in the EU. However, the register in its current form is “unsustainable, misguided and simply not credible” -- according to a detailed report by the ALTER - EU, a coalition of about 200 civil society groups, trade unions, academics and public affairs firms concerned with the increasing influence exerted by corporate lobbyists on the political agenda in Europe.
The Sunlight Foundation applauds efforts to create more transparency around lobbying in the EU and encourages everyone to sign the petition launched by the ALTER-EU coalition.Continue reading
Sunlight Teaming Up With the Open Knowledge Foundation to Create New Lobbying Transparency Working Group
The Sunlight Foundation and the Open Knowledge Foundation are teaming up to convene a new global group on lobbying transparency. We want... View ArticleContinue reading
Are the Inspector General’s Financial Bailout Recommendations Out of Date?
Earlier this month, the Inspector General responsible for overseeing the government’s bailout of the financial sector released an audit of... View ArticleContinue reading
Obama’s Stimulus Lobbying Rules: The Movie
With all of the discussion about President Obama’s new rules on stimulus lobbying, I have put together a short video... View ArticleContinue reading
First FOIA Response on SF-LLLs
A brief, puzzling update (below the fold) on my attempts to get my hands on actual forms SF-LLL, which government contractors or grantees must file when they make a payment or agree to pay "any lobbying entity for influencing or attempting to influence an officer or employee of any agency, a Member of Congress, an officer or employee of Congress, or an employee of a Member of Congress in connection with a covered Federal action," with the latter phrase referring to any contract, grant, cooperative agreement, loan, loan guarantee or loan insurance worth more than $100,000. A reminder: The hope here is that if we can get enough forms SF-LLL, we can start to distinguish between those contracts awarded through the normal procurement process, and those awarded after lobbyists went outside the normal procurement process to influence members of Congress or administration officials. If we can get a complete set of all forms SF-LLL filed with the government, we might be able to build a database from that information, linking it with or incorporating it into sites like FedSpending.org, which tracks government contracts and spending, or OpenSecrets.org, which tracks political influence.Continue reading
Looking into Lobbying Federal Contracts and Grants
This story, about the problems that the Coast Guard and its contractor, Integrated Coast Guard Systems (a joint venture of Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin), are having with their Deepwater program, got me thinking--and about something other than this report on the program by the Inspector General of the Dept. of Homeland Security. Under federal law (it's title 31 U.S.C. section 1352, for those of you keeping score at home), contractors and subcontractors, for-profits and non-profits, universities and state and local governments that lobby the federal government for contracts, grants, cooperative guarantees, loans, loan guarantees or loan insurance have to file a form, called SF-LLL, when they lobby the federal government for that contract, grant, cooperative guarantee, and so on. The instructions that come with the form say, "The filing of a form is required for each payment or agreement to make payment to any lobbying entity for influencing or attempting to influence an officer or employee of any agency, a Member of Congress,an officer or employee of Congress, or an employee of a Member of Congress in connection with a covered Federal action."Continue reading
Why We Need Faster Lobbying Disclosure II
Speaking of the Dubai ports deal in the context of the inadequacy of our current lobbyist disclosure laws, it's probably worth noting that it wasn't just DP World that was hiring lobbyists. The controversy, recall, erupted in the second half of February, as an increasingly large, bipartisan group of lawmakers questioned the sale of a British firm that handled some U.S. port operations to a company owned by the government of Dubai, which is part of the United Arab Emirates. By March 9, DP World announced it would get out of the U.S. ports business.Continue reading
Why We Need Faster Lobbying Disclosure
It's been interesting to hear discussions (and be part of a few) about Sunlight's transparency agenda, particularly from smart lawyer types, policy wonks and activists. For my part, I tend to need concrete examples to prop up my thinking, and thought I'd offer a few examples from how we do things now which I think will make it fairly clear as to why we need to do things differently. Take our current state of lobbying disclosure, and a recent, relatively high profile matter that caused a lot of consternation among Americans: The Dubai ports deal. Under our current lobbying law, the average citizen would have no way of finding out how many lobbyists the company at the heart of the controversy was employing, or how much they were paying them, or who they were lobbying, until long after the matter was resolved.Continue reading