Lobbying Association Asks for More Regulation

K Street sign

A sign for K Street — where most lobbying firms are located — in downtown Washington. Credit: @99inDC

The American League of Lobbyists (ALA), the major professional industry group is expected to call for tougher new rules that would force more people to register as lobbyists. It’s kind of a strange request, the Washington Post reports:

Under current law, lobbyists can avoid registering if less than 20 percent of their time is spent contacting lawmakers’ offices or preparing for such activity. They also don’t need to register if they make fewer than two contacts for a client in one quarter.

The lobbyist association’s proposal calls for eliminating the 20 percent threshold for lobbyists hired on contract and reducing it to 15 for a company’s in-house lobbyists, according to a draft obtained by The Washington Post. The group also favors mandatory ethics classes for lobbyists and creating a new unit at the Justice Department to bolster compliance with the law, according to the draft.

The goal of this proposal is to increase transparency around lobbying and make the industry look better, in light of recent public criticism of lobbyists’ role in influencing the legislative process. It’s also a response to the Obama administration’s tougher approach to lobbyists who want to work in the federal government (which we’ve criticized on our blog because his rules seem to cause even more corruption).

The ALA has (surprisingly) similar things to say to the president. In a recent letter to Obama, it criticized his rules:

“You have attacked lobbyists as being a primary source of political dysfunction,” the letter said, “yet you have embraced those lobbyists who choose to call themselves consultants, advisors, or any other name besides a lobbyist.”

It’ll be interesting, to say the least, to see how the administration respond — and what effect (if any) this has on reducing the undue influence of money over U.S. politics.

Read more:

Washington Post: Lobbying association responds to criticism by calling for more regulation, education

Source Article from http://unitedrepublic.org/2012/lobbying-association-asks-for-more-regulation/

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