Rep. Wild Introduces Legislation to End Lobbyist Loophole, Strengthen Government Transparency

March 2, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON - Rep. Susan Wild (PA-07) today introduced the Lobbyist Loophole Closure Act to ensure that well-connected individuals cannot exploit loopholes in federal ethics laws by being hired as “consultants” in order to avoid registering as a lobbyist. By closing this lobbying loophole, we will ensure that citizens understand who is engaging with federal elected officials and for what purposes. This legislation is a major step forward in increasing transparency around federal officials and strengthening ethics and anti-corruption efforts.

“For too long, well-connected special interests have been able to play by their own set of rules, exploiting our democratic institutions for their own financial gain,” said Rep. Susan Wild. “The Lobbyist Loophole Closure Act is a significant reform of a broken system and will help ensure government officials are behaving ethically and are accountable to their constituents. The American people deserve a government that is more transparent and accountable, and I’m proud to spearhead this effort.”

This legislation expands the scope of who must register as a lobbyist by requiring individuals who provide paid strategic advice in support of a lobbying contact with a government official to register as lobbyists, even if they do not make direct contact. Current law provides for a massive loophole wherein individuals can provide indirect consultations without registering with the government, thereby skirting the rules of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995. 

“Lobbyists for big corporations and foreign governments shouldn’t be able to hide their lobbying activities—especially when they’re retired members of Congress or former senior policymakers in government. This is another way politicians and special interests are rigging the system to benefit themselves at the expense of everyone else,” said End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller. “Rep. Wild is committed to ensuring Washington works for everyone, and that means putting an end to this deceptive tactic. People should be able to find out who’s influencing the major decisions that affect their bottom lines. We thank her for her leadership and support this important bill.”

“Today’s lobbying disclosure system is plagued by what is known as the ‘strategic consulting’ loophole, in which influence peddlers who should register as lobbyists evade the disclosure law simply by avoiding making a lobbying contact with officials, said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist for Public Citizen. “Instead they organize and orchestrate the lobbying campaign but have others make the actual lobbying contact. This legislation would capture these influence peddlers and require them to disclose their activities and financing, as they should have been doing all along.”

“When lobbying activity is done under the table, Americans are kept in the dark about how key decisions in government get made,” said Aaron Scherb, director of legislative affairs at Common Cause. “Requiring individuals who lobby to register as lobbyists is just common-sense, and Common Cause commends Representative Wild for introducing this transparency bill that will help citizens understand who is spending big money to influence the legislative process.”