January 14, 2011
A bi-partisan ABA Administrative Law Section task force, co-chaired by HLS Professor Charles Fried, issued a report recommending significant changes to federal lobbying laws. The proposed changes would broaden disclosure required by those involved in lobbying campaigns, address fundraising participation by lobbyists and strengthen enforcement of current law.
The Jan. 3 report, “Lobbying Law in the Spotlight: Challenges and Proposed Improvements,” includes a preface by Fried, U.S. solicitor general under President Reagan. “The Supreme Court has made abundantly clear that the contributing of funds to, and therefore the raising of funds for, elected officials is a constitutionally protected right,” stated Fried in the preface. “The Task Force does not propose to suppress that right,” he continued. “ Rather, it proposes that, so far as practicable, those who advocate to elected officials do not raise funds for them, and those who raise funds for them do not advocate to them. If this guideline and related proposals of the Task Force are put into place, the status and value, perhaps even the efficacy, of public policy advocacy in our nation will be greatly enhanced.”
The task force was created in Nov. 2009 (See story.) Other co-chairs were Republican election lawyer Trevor Potter, Democratic election attorney Joseph Sandler, and Rebecca Gordon, counsel to the Democratic National Committee and deputy counsel to President Obama's 2008 campaign.
Recommendations based on the report are expected to go before the ABA House of Delegates at its Annual Meeting in August 2011. But according Kenneth P. Doyle writing for Money & Politics Report (see story), the recommendations are being released now in hopes of broader consideration by policy makers in Congress and the Obama administration.