Campaign Legal Center: A Bipartisan Proposal to Fix the Lobbyist Disclosure Act

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Fair elections nonprofit the Campaign Legal Center has released a fact sheet about the Lobbying Disclosure Act – as well as what they are calling a bipartisan proposal they believe will fix it.

Need a little background? Here’s a primer on what the LDA is:

The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 was legislation that intended to bring a level of accountability to federal lobbying practices in the United States.

Federal lobbyists are required to register with the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and the Secretary of the United States Senate. Anyone failing to do so is punishable by a civil fine of up to $50,000. The clerk and secretary must refer any acts of non-compliance to the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.

The problem?

According to the Campaign Legal Center fact sheet:

The Lobbying Disclosure Act is failing in its goal of “ensuring public awareness of the efforts of paid lobbyists to influence the public decision-making process” in order to “increase public confidence in the integrity of Government. While
spending on lobbying continues to grow, the number of registered lobbyists has dropped. However, there are not fewer actual lobbyists; there are simply fewer registered lobbyists. Due to inadequate standards and weak enforcement, the current law falls far short of providing the public with accurate information regarding who is lobbying and who is footing the bill to sway the votes and actions of their elected representatives in Washington.

The fix? Here were some of the recommendations from the report:

  • Requiring individuals to register as lobbyists if (a) they make more than one lobbying contact, (b) receive compensation of more than $2,500 or make expenditures of more than $10,000 per quarter and (c) spend 12 hours or more per quarter conducting lobbying activity.
  • Including in the reports filed by registered lobbyists the names of any individual who provides support for lobbying through strategic planning, public communications and polling operations;
  • Shifting enforcement from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C. to the Department of Justice to ensure greater effectiveness.

Read the entire report here.

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