Lobbying Disclosure: Themes and Issues, 110th Congress Page: 2 of 22
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Lobbying Disclosure: Themes and Issues,
Recent incidents concerning a convicted lobbyist and the provision of privately
funded travel, free meals and entertainment by lobbyists to Members of Congress,
congressional staff, and some executive branch officials have focused broad public
and congressional attention on the interactions between government officials and
lobbyists. The First Amendment to the Constitution provides opportunity for interest
groups to participate in public policy making by prohibiting laws abridging freedom
of speech, while guaranteeing the right of the people to peaceably assemble and to
petition the government for a redress of grievances, but lobbying is controversial.
Any consideration of current law related to lobbying will likely involve discussing
the balance between open, transparent, and accountable governance through thorough
public disclosure of activities carried out by lobbyists, and the rights of lobbyists, on
their own, or on behalf of a client, to exercise constitutionally guaranteed rights.
The attention of policy makers has in the past focused in two general areas: (1)
the efficacy of current lobbying disclosure requirements; and (2) congressional rules
governing interactions between lobbyists, Members of Congress, and their staffs, and
statutes governing similar relationships between lobbyists and executive branch
officials. This report focuses primarily on issues related to lobbying disclosure
procedures and their potential amendment.
The regulation of lobbying disclosure is governed by the Lobbying Disclosure
Act of 1995 (LDA), as amended. During the early organizational period prior to the
110th Congress, it was reported that leaders of the new incoming majorities in both
chambers indicated that lobbying disclosure procedures are likely to be considered
as part of a broader package of ethics and procedural initiatives related to lobbying
activities. Some of that consideration might include the following issues related to
lobbying disclosure: (1) defining clients under LDA to incorporate coalitions and
grassroots lobbying; (2) frequency and scope of disclosure; (3) revolving door
provisions; (4) lobbyist contributions and payments; (5) linking lobbying disclosure
information with Federal Election Commission reports; and (6) LDA enforcement
This report will be updated as warranted. For further background information
and analysis regarding lobbying-related proposals, please consult the CRS Current
Legislative Issues page on Lobbying, Ethics and Related Procedural Reform at
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Lobbying Disclosure: Themes and Issues, 110th Congress, report, January 12, 2007; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc809290/m1/2/: accessed December 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.