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Tag Archive: Lobbying/Lobbyists

The EU lobbyist register needs fixing

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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.

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FDA Regulations Point to Need for Strengthened Lobbying Disclosure Laws

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As my colleague Nancy Watzman reported, the Food and Drug Administration proposed strict new rules to ensure the cleanliness of food production, distribution and warehousing facilities. At the same time, the American Bakers Association announced “a major victory" because somehow they had ensured the new rules would not apply to their warehouses. To find out how and why the ABA secured an exemption to the rules was no straightforward task. A search of the lobbyist disclosure database yielded few results. Instead, it took a Freedom of Information Act request, digging through law firm websites and other sources in order to piece together who the influencers in Washington were and how they managed to ensure their clients were not subject to rules that, on the surface, would appear to be designed to impact their industry.

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Untangling the webs of tax lobbying

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It’s tax day today, and while Americans all over the country are scrambling to pay what they owe, in Washington there is a different kind of hustle taking place. About 6,500 lobbyists are busily working to make sure that their more than 2,000 client organizations can pay a little less in taxes. Some want a new tax credit passed. In this year that threatened comprehensive tax reform, many are focused on protecting existing loopholes, credits, and exemptions. To understand the vast and busy world of Washington tax lobbying, a new Sunlight Foundation analysis and visualization has mapped out the networks of tax lobbying from the 112th Congress (2011-2012), which should also be a pretty good guide to what lobbying in the 113th Congress will look like. Our interactive component lets you follow the industries and issues that you care most about. Click for Interactive Graphic by Alexander Furnas and Amy Cesal. Click to explore the network interactively. The visualization draws on the complete record of tax lobbying in the 112th Congress. For those keeping score at home, that covers:

  • $773 million in reported lobbying spending
  • 1,454 bills
  • 2,221 organizations

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The DC Council should consider improved lobbying disclosure

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The idea that Washington, DC's lobbying disclosure schedule is inadequate is not new, but it might be easy to improve thanks to new legislation targeting campaign finance reform. Lobbying and campaign finance are inherently linked. Companies that lobby the city government invariably give to political campaigns. Currently, those who lobby the DC government and Council only have to report their activities and expenditures twice a year. As a result, journalists, watchdogs and interested citizens often have to wait until far after important debates for crucial information about the special interests that were working to influence policy decisions. Moreover, the bi-yearly requirements make it difficult to paint a complete picture of influence spending, especially in an election year.

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