Washington, D.C. – This week, two bills were introduced on Capitol Hill targeting the lobbying profession. In the Senate, legislation introduced by Senators John Kennedy (R-LA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) would amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) and require lobbyists to report convictions of previous crimes including bribery, fraud, extortion, and tax evasion. In the House, Representatives Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced legislation that would prohibit former Members of Congress from lobbying, including the unethical practice of shadow lobbying – that is, lobbying without registering.
Paul Miller, president of the National Institute for Lobbying and Ethics (NILE) blasted both bills. “This is outrageous,” Miller said regarding proposed changes to the LDA. “Lobbying is one of the most heavily regulated professions in the country and we are already required to file activity reports with the government four times a year,” he continued.
When asked about the proposed lobbying ban, Miller called the legislation “unconstitutional” and said that he would challenge its constitutionality, if passed. “The First Amendment clearly prohibits Congress from impeding ‘the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances’ – which is the bill’s intent,” Miller said.
Miller agreed that there is distrust on Capitol Hill. “The sponsors [of both bills] and I clearly share a common goal of ridding the legislative process of unethical behavior,” Miller said.
Regarding the lobbying ban, Miller said that NILE has been meeting with Members of Congress to institute reforms, recommended by its Lobbying Task Force, that would target shadow lobbying. The task force identified shadow lobbying as the number one threat to the lobbying profession, and since then, the likes of Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and Michael Cohen have proved just that. “The distrust in Congress and lobbyists is caused by people who simply do not follow the rules, and they should be held accountable rather than everyone else bearing the brunt of their unethical decisions,” Miller concluded.
The National Institute For Lobbying & Ethics is the national professional trade association for those in the lobbying and government affairs profession.