Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Lobbying reform?

Mark Tapscott weighs in on lobbying reform:

The key provision of the 2006 bill was its redefinition of grassroots lobbying to include small citizens groups whose messages about Congress and public policy issues are directed toward the general public, according to attorneys for the Free Speech Coalition.

All informational and educational materials produced by such groups would have to be registered and reported on a quarterly basis. Failure to report would result in severe civil penalties (likely followed soon by criminal penalties as well).

The new bill isn't out there yet, nor am I likely to wade through it when it appears, so I will have to wait for further analysis. But this doesn't look good. If citizens groups receiving $50,000 or more in outside funding are to be considered "lobbyists", then we have reached a point where the first amendment is looking pretty thin.

Why are lobbyists evil anyway? Seems to me the problem isn't with the lobbyists, it is with the legislators. Maybe we should require quarterly reports from the congress critters.


David Thomson said...

The paperwork required to comply with such an outrageous demand would effectively shut down ordinary citizen political activity. Almost certainly, the group would have to spend much of its time responding to the forms. Only much larger organizations could realistically foot the bill. In other words, it would be similar to the impact of Sarbanes-Oxley on the business community.

Ed onWestSlope said...

"Maybe we should require quarterly reports from the congress critters."

They are always exempt. The rules are just for us rubes.

terrye said...

People just don't know who lobbyists are. It is like government aid, it is only a rip off when it helps someone else.

I was in a lobbying group for some time. It was WIFE, Women Involved in Farm Economics.

One time we made a trip to DC and got so rowdy in a restaurant in Georgetown the staff told us to keep it down. A bunch of farmwives out in the big city.