Lobby Reform

Background

Political advocacy is a cornerstone of democracy. Organizations like AARP are essential in bringing information and expertise to the legislative process and representing older Americans.

Certain laws work to ensure the integrity of lobbying. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 increased the registration standards and disclosure requirements for federal lobbying. It expanded the definition of “lobbyist” and required lobbyists to register with the secretary of the Senate and the clerk of the House. But a recent report by the Office of Congressional Ethics shows that lobbyists can still wield inordinate influence by steering campaign contributions from businesses that have interests before the committees on which members sit. Although disclosure rules help, a system of public financing for congressional elections would limit such abuses (see this chapter’s section, Campaign Finance and Rules).

Lobby Reform: Policy

Disclosure of lobbying activities

In this policy: FederalLocalState

Governments should adopt and require full and timely disclosures of, and restrictions on, lobbying activities and expenditures.

Enforcement of lobbying regulations

In this policy: FederalLocalState

Governments should adopt and enforce lobbying requirements and limitations on gifts that lawmakers and their staffs may accept from lobbyists.

Conflicts of interest

In this policy: FederalLocalState

Governments should adopt and require lobbying standards that protect against real and perceived conflicts of interest for lawmakers and their staffs, such as revolving-door practices and lobbyists’ participation in election activities.