January 31, 2006
Legislation in the News: Lobbying Disclosure Reform
Legislative proposals addressing lobbying reform introduced thus far in the 109th Congress include H.Res. 81, introduced by Representative Mark Green; H.R. 1302 and H.R. 1304, introduced by Representative Lloyd Doggett; H.R. 2412, introduced by Representative Martin Meehan; H.R. 3177, introduced by Representative George Miller; S. 1398, introduced by Senator Russell Feingold; S. 2128, introduced by Senator John McCain; and H.R. 4575, introduced by Representative Christopher Shays.
Current Statute: Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (P.L. 104-65)
Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (P.L. 104-65) became law on December 19, 1995. The Act requires registration with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives (appropriate congressional officials) by any individual lobbyist (or the individual's employer if it employs one or more lobbyists) within 45 days after the individual first makes, or is employed or retained to make, a lobbying contact with either the President, the Vice President, a Member of Congress, or any other specified Federal officer or employee, including certain high-ranking members of the uniformed services. Defines a lobbyist as any individual employed or retained by a client for financial or other compensation for services that include more than one lobbying contact (but not an individual whose lobbying activities constitute less than twenty percent of the time engaged in the services provided to that client over a six month period).
P.L. 104-65 was amended by P.L. 105-166, see below.
Provides for: (1) special registration filing rules in cases involving multiple clients and contacts; and (2) registration termination in cases where a registrant is no longer employed or retained by a client to conduct lobbying activities and does not anticipate any additional lobbying activities for such client. Specifies the contents of such registration.
Requires registrants to file semiannual lobbying activity reports with the appropriate congressional officials.
Specifies the contents of such reports. officials for carrying out this Act, including reviewing registrations and reports filed under it, and making copies of them available to the public.
Sets forth penalties for violations involving the requirements of this Act.
Amends the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 to: (1) replace references to political propaganda with references to informational materials; and (2) add to the exemption from registration requirements under such Act for certain lawyers providing legal representation to disclosed foreign principals to apply it to such representative actions as judicial proceedings and criminal or civil law enforcement inquiries, investigations, or proceedings.
Sets forth special rules for the identification of: (1) foreign and other clients on whose behalf lobbying contacts are made with a covered legislative or executive branch official; and (2) such covered officials.
Permits tax-exempt charitable organizations required to report lobbying expenses by the Internal Revenue Code to report, under this Act, only good faith estimates of such expenses in order to meet specified reporting (including exemption from such reporting) requirements of this Act.
Please note: Tomorrow we will feature recent Congressional Research Service reports on lobbying disclosure reform.
Lobbying Disclosure Technical Amendments Act of 1997
Lobbying Disclosure Technical Amendments Act of 1997 was enacted on April 6, 1998. The Act amends the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to exclude from the definition of "covered executive branch official" an employee whose position has been determined to be of a confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating character by: (1) the President for a position the President has excepted from the competitive service; or (2) the President or an agency head for a position excepted from the competitive service by statute.
Excludes from the definition of "lobbying contact" any communication compelled by a Federal contract grant, loan, permit, or license. Adds to the definition of "public official" a group of governments acting together as an international organization.
Revises requirements applicable to estimates by entities: (1) reporting lobbying expenditures under provisions relating to charitable, etc., (Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3)) organizations; or (2) covered by provisions prohibiting a trade or business expense deduction for lobbying expenses. Removes provisions allowing such a charitable, etc., organization to meet its semiannual lobbying reporting requirement by filing with the Senate and the House of Representatives the same report filed to satisfy Internal Revenue Code requirements.
Amends the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 to exempt from a requirement to register as a foreign agent anyone who has engaged in lobbying activities and has registered (currently, anyone who is required to register and does register) under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.
Ron Jones, University of Cincinnati Law Library
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