CRS Report on Lobbying Rules

Last week, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report asserting that the Obama administration's rules covering federally registered lobbyists have "already changed the relationship between lobbyists and covered executive branch officials." The report titled, "Lobbying and the Executive Branch: Current Practices and Options for Change," did not explain how those relationships have changed.

read in full

Many Agree Lobbying Policies May Not Actually Reduce Corruption

The most recent effort to curb lobbyists' influence, excluding registered lobbyists from federal advisory panels, continues to get press coverage since first announced in September. The Washington Post predicts that it, "may turn out to be the most far-reaching lobbying rule change so far from President Obama, who also has sought to restrict the ability of lobbyists to get jobs in his administration and to negotiate over stimulus contracts."

read in full

Lawmakers Use Statements Written by Lobbyists, Is Congress Just Lazy?

The New York Times found that more than a dozen members of Congress used almost indistinguishable talking points on health care reform ghostwritten by lobbyists. Lobbyists representing a biotech firm drafted separate language for Democrats and for Republicans. "The lobbyists, employed by Genentech and by two Washington law firms, were remarkably successful in getting the statements printed in the Congressional Record under the names of different members of Congress."

read in full

FDA May Delay Oyster Rule after Industry Pressure

In response to industry and political pressure, the Food and Drug Administration may be backing away from a regulation that would require oyster sellers to process oysters to kill Vibrio vulnificus, a bacteria that can sicken or kill those it infects. The regulation was supposed to take effect in 2011, but FDA may delay action while it further studies the issue.

read in full

Federal Lobbyists have Increasingly Terminated Their Registrations

OMB Watch and the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) have found that lobbyists have began terminating their formal registrations at significantly higher rates than usual. The OMB Watch-CRP press release states that there have been "1,418 'deregistrations' of federally registered lobbyists during the second quarter of 2009, a marked increase for any reporting period during all of 2008 and 2009.

read in full

Administration Releases More Visitor Logs

On Friday, the Obama administration released another set of visitor logs.  The list of 110 White House guests was compiled from public requests and includes names such as Brad Pitt, Jesse Jackson, and several business leaders.  This release is a positive step toward building a system of government transparency that is responsive to the public interest but we would still like to see the administration go further with this effort.

read in full

Hearing to Investigate Forged Letters

The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming held a hearing on the fraudulent letters sent to Congress on clean energy and climate legislation. Chairman Edward Markey (D-MA) wanted to know why congressional offices were not notified until after the vote occurred, even though the existence of the fake letters was discovered beforehand. The letters were sent out by Bonner & Associates, a subcontractor hired by Hawthorn.

read in full

Administration Defends Policies toward Lobbyists

On Oct. 19 the chairs for the Industry Trade Advisory Committees (ITAC) sent President Obama a letter expressing opposition to the announcement that registered lobbyists should be prohibited from serving on federal advisory boards. The group asked Obama to reconsider the guidance.

read in full

"What's In a Name?"

Politico reports on the practice of former Members of Congress giving campaign contributions, and engaging in other perfectly legal advisory roles, and not in fact lobbying. The article focuses on two former Representatives, Bud Cramer (D-AL) and Jim McCrery (R-LA). They have both entered the private sector and plan on registering as lobbyists as soon as their cooling off period is complete, which bans them from directly lobbying former colleagues.

read in full

Hearing on Forged Letter Scandal Postponed

The Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming scheduled a hearing to investigate the forged advocacy letters sent to members of Congress before the House considered legislation on clean energy. The hearing notice states it will address the specific events of the case and "the practice of Astroturf."

read in full