In the past week, the Association of Government Relations Professionals (formerly the American League of Lobbyists) announced its endorsement of tougher disclosure requirements for lobbyists, and Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced the Close the Revolving Door Act of 2014, which would permanently ban former Members of Congress from becoming lobbyists. This has led some to suggest that there is “a renewed push for lobbying reform.”
Although there is a growing consensus that the current rules may not reflect modern trends (see, for example, the “unlobbyists“), actual reforms still appear far off. As Politico noted, “it usually takes a major scandal to get Congress to act” on lobbying reform. Indeed, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 followed the Abramoff scandal, and the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 was spurred by the Wedtech and Keating Five controversies.
The government relations association’s support of reforms may be a sign that the industry recognizes the gaps in the current system, but Congress will likely need more to prompt action. (And, lastly, Betteridge’s Law of Headlines still holds true.)