Shadow Lobbyists May See Light of Day with New Bill

There are the lobbyists that we know have outsized influence when it comes to the daily machinations of governance, but we assume that there's  some oversight, that there's a database somewhere, a registration process, a way to track who's saying – and paying – what to whom. 

But if that 'lobbyist' is working less than 20% of his hours on any single client, on behalf a specific cause, they don't have to register themselves. They're in essence "shadow lobbyists" – untraceable and untrackable. 

A Colorado Democat wants to change that (from The Sunlight Foundation): 

Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., recently introduced the Lobbying and Campaign Finance Reform Act (S. 2754) to ensure that everyone who is a paid influencer is required to register and report his or her lobbying activities, and to attempt to de-link lobbying and fundraising.

The article goes on to describe just why the "20 percent loophole" is so nefarious:

The fiction of the 20 percent loophole is that it implies that only registered lobbyists wield undue influence. In reality, many of the most influential people in Washington are far more influential than the vast majority of lobbyists who do register.

And calls out one specific lobbyist for taking advantage of the work-around:

New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown, who, while at Nixon Peabody, focused on "business and governmental affairs" — aka lobbying — "as they relate to the financial services industry." Brown likely took advantage of the 20 percent loophole, never registering and reporting his lobbying — er, governmental affairs activities...Scott Brown's he-doth-protest-too-much threat of a lawsuit notwithstanding, the portions of the Bennet bill that close the 20 percent loophole are a simple expansion of current, well-established law. 

A common-sense loophole closure. Let's see if the current Congress has the political will to pass it. But since so many politicians take advantage of the revolving door that launches them directly into the lobbying world following their tenures in office, the chances of this – and the stealth lobbyists it protects – seeing the light of day are slim.

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