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  • Sunday, January 08, 2006


    Those Darn Lobbyists!

    The number of registered lobbyists has doubled over the last 3 or 4 years. Currently, the number is about 38,000, if memory serves. But I really doubt this makes any significant impact on our unequivically ethical and honest elected representative or their staff. Right? Sure. It's a lovely day in the (K Street) neighborhood. Presented, with a little bolding from me for emphasis, from LobbyWatch:
    WASHINGTON, April 7, 2005 — In a major study of the federal lobbying industry, the Center for Public Integrity today reports that lobbyists have spent nearly $13 billion since 1998 to influence members of Congress and federal officials on legislation and regulations.

    Out of that $13 billion, almost $600 million was tax and tuition dollars spent by states, local governments and universities.

    Records show that in 2003 alone lobbyists spent $2.4 billion and records for 2004 are expected to show expenditures of at least $3 billion. That's about twice as much as was spent on campaign finance in the same time period.

    "For years the media and the public have focused on campaign finance as the key to congressional and governmental accountability," said Roberta Baskin, the Center's executive director. "Our report reveals that each year since 1998 the amount spent to influence federal lawmakers is double the amount of money spent to elect them."

    The Center also found that the revolving door is turning dizzyingly fast. Nearly 250 former members of Congress and agency heads are active lobbyists, and more than 2,000 lobbyists used to work in senior government positions. There is a large financial incentive for the move.

    The report shows that the federal disclosure system is in disarray. Forty-nine out of the top 50 lobbying firms failed to file one or more required forms during the last six years. Similarly, 20 percent of the companies registered to lobby failed to file one or more required forms.

    Nearly 14,000 documents that should have been filed are missing; nearly 300 individuals, companies or associations lobbied without first registering; more than 2,000 initial registrations were filed after the allowable time frame; 210 out of 250 top lobbying firms failed to file one or more required document; and in more than 2,000 instances, lobbyists never filed the required termination documents at all.

    Even those who did file were often late in doing so. Almost 20 percent—36,000 out of 183,000—of lobbying forms were filed late.

    "In 2004 the press wrote ten times as many stories about campaign finance than they did about lobbying," said Baskin. "Such inattention by the public and the press has made it possible for lobbyists to run stealth campaigns that impact America's democracy out of the spotlight."

    As part of its investigation of federal lobbying, the Center built an extensive database that includes the names of all registered lobbyists, the names of the top clients of all the lobbyists, the issues lobbied, the agencies that are lobbied and the government officials involved in the revolving door system. The database (which is free to the public) takes information difficult to access from sources such as the Senate Office of Public Records and makes it user friendly and easily accessible by company, lobbying firm or issue.

    The database also details federal lobbying activities by companies based in each of the 50 states and six territories, along with information about lobbying by universities and local governments. It shows, for example, that in the past six years, more than 300 public universities have spent over $131 million, while more than 1,400 local governments have doled out more than $352 million to secure funding for everything from freeways to fire trucks.

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