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« The March Toward Meaningful Lobbying and Ethics Reform | Main | A Victory for Voters - the Senate Delivers Real Reform »

Update: Grassroots Lobbying Debate Heats Up in Senate

The Senate's ethics and lobbying reform bill, S. 1 [pdf], will be debated on the floor this week and through the end of next week.  Contained in the bill is a strong provision that would shine new light on grassroots lobbying by large (and often for-profit) lobbying firms.

Frightened for their bottom line, and protective of the premium they earn for stealth efforts that conceal the real interests of industry, a small coalition of right-wing groups is trumping up a controversy over this simple new disclosure provision. We responded to their concerns in a letter sent yesterday [pdf].

We also released a report, Organizing Astroturf [pdf], which listed 12 examples of bogus grassroots efforts by phony industry-backed groups and the important public issues involved, which included everything from asbestos rules to the environment and the estate tax.

The provision in the Senate bill is very narrowly drawn. It requires disclosure only when an entity spends a large amount of money – more than $25,000 over a three-month period – to rally the public to urge Congress to act on a pending bill.  The measure does not in any way restrict lobbying activities by individuals or groups.

Citizens and lawmakers deserve to know who is influencing public policy. Please take a minute to call your Senators and let them know you agree with us that sunlight is the best disinfectant for politics.

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