Lobbying Reform

When Democrats gained control of Congress in 2007 we passed a landmark rules package which included provisions to end the tight-knit relationship between lobbyists and lawmakers, bring transparency to lobbyists’ activities, and deny taxpayer-funded pension benefits to Members of Congress convicted of corruption.

Furthermore, the Obama Administration instituted tough new restrictions on the role of lobbyists in the executive branch. This included a rule that political appointees must be two years removed from lobbying on an issue they could be working on for the government.

The House took a significant step forward by shining sunlight on the interaction between lobbyists and legislators by passing the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act which provides an unprecedented level of disclosure – both in quantity and quality – on the interactions between lobbyists and legislators. It doubles the level of reporting by lobbyists from two to four times a year. It expands the categories of reporting by lobbyists; it closes a loophole in current law that permits issue ads to avoid disclosing their clients; and it requires lobbyists to disclose past executive and congressional employment. It provides additional measures to end the infamous K Street project. It increases criminal and civil penalties for violations of the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

Lobbyists also have to certify that they did not give a gift or provide travel in violation of the rules of this House or the Senate. Finally, in an improvement over current law, the legislation also requires members of Congress to immediately disclose any negotiations with future employers to the ethics committee, and to recuse themselves from any matters that might impact that employer and to make such recusal public.