Watchdog organizations on Thursday called on members of the congressional "super committee" to voluntarily take immediate steps to shine light on the murky lobbying activity surrounding the panel.
A collection of 14 good government organizations sent a letter to the 12 members of the bipartisan committee, urging the lawmakers to reveal information about the contacts they have with lobbyists and campaign contributions they receive while the panel conducts its work. Currently, most of the lobbying disclosure and campaign finance reports that could provide details on outside influence geared toward the committee will not be released until January.
The groups warned in the letter that the failure to disclose methods of influence directed at the panel “will reinforce the public’s mistrust of the process and risks delegitimizing the committee’s work.” The committee is tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in savings over the next 10 years.
“The Committee on Deficit Reduction has unprecedented power to shape future spending in the United States, affecting all Americans,” the organizations wrote. “Members of the Committee should, therefore, take unprecedented steps to ensure that outside efforts to influence…the committee should be transparent.”
The letter’s signatories include The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Center for Responsive Politics, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause, Fix Congress First, the League of Women Voters of the United States, MapLight, OMB Watch, OpentheGovernment.org, Project On Government Oversight, Public Citizen, The Sunlight Foundation, Taxpayers for Common Sense and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
Representatives for Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who co-chair the panel, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Reps. David Loebsack (D-Iowa), Michael Quigley (D-Ill.) and James Renacci (R-Ohio) last week introduced a bill that would order committee members and staffers to disclose meetings they have with lobbyists. The measure also would require the disclosure of lobbyist contributions to the campaigns of panel members.
Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) also offered a bill in August aimed at increasing the panel’s transparency. The legislation would require the lawmakers to disclose campaign contributions of more than $1,000 while they are on the committee.