There are approximately 12,600 registered lobbyists in Washington (including one of the newest– Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia’s son Eugene). Spending on lobbying activities last year was about $3.3 billion according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Much of all this lobbying power has recently been aimed at convincing our elected and non-elected officials that all government rules and regulations are evil, contrived by haters of free enterprise and therefore are… (wait for it)…JOB KILLING REGULATIONS.
Of course this phony argument is being peddled primarily by the carbon and financial industries trying to maximize their profits at the expense of the public’s health and safety, consumers’ financial protection and a fair playing field for small businesses to compete. Polls continue to show that the public and even small business owners understand the importance of regulations. And apparently, so do Washington lobbyists.
The American League of Lobbyists (LDA) approved a proposal this week to support new regulations on lobbyists. Not only do the lobbyists want more regulation of their profession, they want better enforcement of the regulations.
The LDA wants tougher registration requirements that will result in more influence peddlers registering with the government and be subject to all the public disclosure laws. It wants regulations to require faster reporting of new clients, mandatory ethics training and no more registrations exemptions for state, local and federal government employees. The LDA also wants to move enforcement of the regulations from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to the stricter Justice Department’s Foreign Agents Registration Unit.
Why this new found love of regulations by the same lobbyists trying to deregulate every other industry?
It turns out that the lobbyists are concerned for the public good and fair competition. Sound familiar?
According to the story in The Hill, the LDA wants to “help rebuild public trust in Washington”.
“If people don’t have confidence in their system of government, we’re in sad shape, and I think that has been one of the things that has been happening,” says Howard Marlowe, LDA president.
But the newly proposed regulations are not just good for the public; they are also good for lobbyists.
Lobbyists, like every other trade organization, want to improve the professionalism of their industry and to protect their members from unfair competition. The proposed regulations would level the playing field for all those seriously lobbying in Washington by requiring all of them to be regulated to higher standards.
But while the LDA is lobbying Congress for more regulations on their members, don’t expect to hear the phrase “JOB KILLING REGULATIONS” used in their effort. Even if the LDA is successful, there will be more registered lobbyists next year and the year after that and the year after that and …..