Why Bennet and Sarbanes Introduced a Lobbying Reform Bill
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) introduced legislation on Wednesday to beef up lobbying disclosure laws. The bill, known as the Curtailing Lobbyists and Empowering Americans for a New Politics Act, would scrap the “20 percent threshold,” under which lobbyists are only required to register if they make at least two lobbying contacts on behalf of a particular client and spend at least 20 percent of the time working for the client on lobbying. It would also require “strategic advisers” who help clients navigate government without lobbying, such as Michael Cohen, to register and would close the Foreign Agents Registration Act loophole, which allows lobbyists for certain foreign interests to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act and avoid FARA’s more stringent disclosure requirements.... In an interview, Sarbanes said he wasn’t trying to vilify lobbying. “There’s nothing wrong with lobbying,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with bringing views to bear on behalf of an industry.” The intention of provisions scrapping the 20 percent threshold “is first and foremost to get to this ecosystem of adviser types that roam Capitol Hill” but aren’t registered to lobby, he said.... Sarbanes is under no illusions that his legislation will go anywhere in this Congress. “We view this legislation as an important component part of a broad reform package that Democrats can bring forward in the next Congress if we win back the House,” he said.