Washington insiders who collect political intelligence and sell it to corporate America would have to register under the lobbying disclosure law thanks to an amendment Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley successfully added to the anti-insider trading STOCK Act that the Senate passed last night.
"When these people come around to get information from you that they sell to hedge funds that you'll know who they are. You don't know that now. And transparency in government is very important if you want accountability," Grassley said on the Senate floor before Friday's 60-39 vote to pass the amendment.
But the American League of Lobbyists worries that Grassley's amendment will undercut the league's efforts to reform the lobbying disclosure laws.
"It adds a totally new class of non-lobbyists to the Lobbying Disclosure Act. It does not close any of the loopholes for lobbyists or political intelligence consultants," ALL president Howard Marlowe told the Alley. "I'd prefer the time, effort and money be put into something that will actually lead to more transparency and accountability. This does nothing to close the Gingrich loophole."
Marlowe is referring to the fact that while GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich made millions as a hired gun for Freddie Mac, the law did not require him to register as a lobbyist. Gingrich's situation is far from unique.
On the Democratic side, former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle has never registered to lobby even though as a non-lawyer working in a law lobbying firm, he provides legislative advice to clients.
Gingrich and Daschle are among a host of legislative strategists who make big bucks representing some of the nation's largest companies, but don't register to lobby. Generally, the strategists argue that they don't spend enough time talking to lawmakers to trigger the lobbying registration requirements.