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.