Leadership

Government Relations Group Backs Lobbying Reform Effort

By / Jun 2, 2014 (Fuse/Thinkstock)

With a bill signaling a renewed push for lobbying reform in Congress, a leading government relations group says it supports efforts to increase transparency and reporting.

With fresh efforts to reform the lobbying field coming down the pipeline, a key association that represents government relations professionals says that it’s willing to play ball.

Last month, Politico reported that Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) would reintroduce the sweeping Close the Revolving Door Act. It would permanently ban members of Congress from becoming lobbyists, bar senior staffers from lobbying activity until six years after their service on Capitol Hill ended (up from the current one year), and prohibit former lobbyists from working in Congress until six years after they were last registered.

The legislation also would close a loophole by expanding the current lobbying disclosure rules to include consultants who formerly worked for or served in Congress. The bill, which Bennet first introduced in 2010, would increase fines for violations and improve the current disclosure system.

“I know it will be tough, but I’ve spent a career outside of politics fixing broken businesses, schools, and city budgets,” Bennet wrote of the 2010 version of the bill in The Huffington Post. “That’s why I’m not about to back down from this challenge—we can’t settle for this broken business-as-usual system any longer.”

Encouraging Transparency

For its part, the Association of Government Relations Professionals (AGRP) says it remains committed to lobbying reform. And though it doesn’t necessarily agree with all of the proposals in recent efforts, it says it does support general reform of the system to increase transparency.

“The American people have a right to know who is lobbying their members of Congress and for what purpose in a timely manner and in a way that does not infringe on anyone’s First Amendment right to petition the government for a redress of grievances,” AGRP President Monte Ward said in a statement to The Hill.

The organization (which changed its name from the American League of Lobbyists last year) recommends requiring people to register as lobbyists if they spend more than 10 percent of their time advocating on policy issues. AGRP also backs closing the loophole for outside consultants, which it says would “encourage accurate registration and reporting.”

“Current rules that impose restrictions solely on registered lobbyists should either be removed or be rewritten to apply equally to all citizens, companies, associations, and other organizations, whether registered or unregistered as lobbyists,” Ward added.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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