As the D.C. Council on Thursday holds its first legislative meeting since the election, a leading nonpartisan advocate for government transparency has a proposal for the body to consider.
The Sunlight Foundation on Tuesday posted on its blog language the Council could use in drafting a bill intended to improve lobbying disclosure. Under D.C. law, lobbyists must file with the D.C. Office of Campaign Finance semiannual reports that publicly disclose their efforts to influence members of the city's legislative and executive branches. But Sunlight's proposal would require lobbyists to reveal to the Office of Campaign Finance within 72 hours contacts they made with D.C. officials and to submit to the agency monthly reports on their government advocacy efforts.
Matthew Rumsey, Sunlight's policy associate, wrote in the blog post that the current frequency of lobbying disclosure is "inadequate," making it difficult for the public to monitor how lobbyists are influencing the D.C. government. More than a dozen states mandate that lobbyists file monthly reports and New Mexico requires them to disclose their contacts within 48 hours when the state's legislature is in session, he notes. (The federal government requires quarterly updates from lobbyists.)
"A legislative fix aimed at shedding light on those influencing local lawmakers and improving DC's disclosure schedule would be a logical addition to the Mayor's bill or any of the other campaign finance reform proposals that have been introduced recently," he wrote. "If the DC council moves forward with campaign finance reform legislation, and it looks like they will, lobbying disclosure reform should be on the table."
Doxie McCoy, a spokeswoman for Gray, wasn't immediately available for comment. Karen Sibert, a spokeswoman for D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D), directed a request for comment to the councilmember, who didn't immediately respond.