A promising lobbying regulation from Obama 

President Obama has called for new regulations on lobbyists. To date, Obama's lobbying rules have ranged from nearly meaningless (his loophole-filled "ban" on lobbyists in policy-making jobs), to enlightening (some of the disclosure rules), to probably unconstitutional (bans on lobbyist contact with administration officials).

My friend Robert Schlesinger at U.S. News called a lobbyist friend about Obama's proposals to limit lobbyist contributions to campaigns, and got this response:

I would love it if they capped campaign donations from lobbyists b/c I'm tired of all the fundraising calls and really don't want to give my money to federal campaigns.

But the most promising regulation Obama has proposed to date is his effort to catch those who would simply evade registering. The Hill reports:

The Obama administration wants to close a “loophole” in the 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) that allows individuals to avoid registering as lobbyists if they spend less than 20 percent of their time lobbying.

While I wouldn't call the 20-percent threshold "a loophole" -- it may be arbitrary, but that's not really the problem. The problem with the 20 percent threshold is that it's the easiest way for a lobbyist to justify not registering, and it is nearly impossible to police.

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Timothy P. Carney

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