Updated at 4:27 p.m.
After a year in the making, much-anticipated lobbying reform proposals from the leading trade group for U.S. lobbyists are ready.
The American League of Lobbyists' board of directors on Monday unanimously approved a series of tougher lobbying rules, which it will push Congress to take up. The proposals include mandatory ethics training for lobbyists, lower thresholds for lobbyists to register with Congress and requirements for local, state and federal employees, as well as employees of religious organizations, to notify Congress that they are lobbyists if they are working to affect federal public policy.
Individuals who spend less than 20 percent of their time lobbying for their employers or clients and only contact a federal office once a quarter as part of that work don’t have to register with Congress as lobbyists. Local, state and federal employees, as well as employees of religious organizations in most cases, also don’t have to register as lobbyists even if they do federal government advocacy work on behalf of their employers.
The American League of Lobbyists is calling for any individual who is hired by an outside organization for federal government advocacy work to register as a lobbyist after that person contacts a federal office once. Individuals who engage in federal government relations efforts on behalf of their employers also must register as a lobbyist if they spend more than 10 percent of their time on that work and contact a federal office once a quarter.
The group also is recommending that the U.S. Justice Department unit that handles registration paperwork for individuals who lobby for foreign government entities — not the U.S. Attorney for D.C. — handle enforcement of lobbying disclosure law.
American League of Lobbyists President Howard Marlowe said in a conference call with reporters that his group’s recommendations are “meaningful and achievable.”
“We want to increase transparency and accountability of all those who are engaged in public policy advocacy,” Marlowe said. “We have taken action today to broaden the scope of the law so that all those who are paid to engage in lobbying must register and report their activities to the secretary of the Senate and the clerk of the House.”