The public comment period for this legislation has ended.

Real Time Online Lobbying Transparency Act

38 bill comments, 43 section comments

Powerful influence peddlers — both registered lobbyists and high-profile “non-lobbyist lobbyists” — have always had an out-sized impact on policy decisions made by Congress and the executive branch. Moreover, the Supreme Court’s decision in the Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission case last year gave lobbyists powerful new means of persuasion via unlimited campaign spending. To counteract the lobbying industry’s distorting effect on public policy, the current lobbying disclosure requirements must be strengthened to be more comprehensive, detailed and timely. The draft Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) amendments would create an entirely new system of real-time, online disclosure of lobbying activities by all who are paid to do so. The bill would deter and root out corruption, and more importantly, improve the democratic process. The bill would create an ongoing policy dialogue by providing the public a clear understanding of the issues that have the attention of lawmakers and the interests that are lobbying in support or opposition to them. The Lobbying Disclosure Act is amended as follows:
  1. TITLE I - Expand the Definition of Lobbyist
    1. Sec. 101. Definition of Lobbyist (14 comments)
    2. Sec. 102. Definition of Significant Contact (8 comments)
    3. Sec. 103. Definition of Lobbying Activities (5 comments)
  2. TITLE II - Registration of Lobbyists
    1. Sec. 101. Timing of Registration (3 comments)
    2. Sec. 102. Contents of Registration (1 comment)
    3. Sec. 103. Guidelines for Registration (2 comments)
  3. TITLE III - Reports by Registered Lobbyists
    1. Sec. 101. Reports of Significant Contacts (1 comment)
    2. Sec. 102. Reports on Contributions
    3. Sec. 103. Electronic Filing Required
  4. TITLE IV - Reporting of Bundled Contributions Made by Persons Other Than Registered Lobbyists
    1. Sec. 101. Required Disclosure of Bundlers
    2. Sec. 102. Reporting of Lobbying Activities by All Persons Who Bundle Contributions
    3. Sec. 103. Electronic Filing and Public Access (1 comment)
  5. TITLE V - Disclosure of Paid Advertising Activities by Lobbyists
    1. Sec. 101. Electronic Filing of Reports for Advertising Paid by Lobbyists
    2. Sec. 102. Contents of Reports (2 comments)
  6. TITLE VI - Disclosure of Paid Efforts to Stimulate Grassroots Lobbying
    1. Sec. 101. Definitions (1 comment)
    2. Sec. 102. Registration and Reporting (1 comment)
  7. TITLE VII - Public Access to Reports
    1. Sec. 101. Responsibilities of the Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate (1 comment)
  8. TITLE VIII - Comparability of Reports
    1. Sec. 101. Amending the Lobbying Disclosure Act (3 comments)

General Comments on Real Time Online Lobbying Transparency Act

Don Somsky on February 2, 2011

A supreme court that would give lobbyists more power shows just where this country is going and people better wake up and fight this kind of of acts that take our freedom.

Charla Myers on February 2, 2011

Lobbyists are just pawns paid for by the highest bidder; however, politicians shouldn't always have to respond to the money as they work for the voters—which are individual people, not corporations.

Raymond Nash on February 2, 2011

It's been a long time coming and is about time this happened. And the swinging door between staffers, lawmakers, those in government, and lobbying should also be changed.

Melvin Bautista on February 2, 2011

All former Congressional staffers, former department heads, people who worked for government should be required not to become a lobbyist for 5 to 10 years after leaving office so they won't have an immediate impact on those former departments or Congressional Legislators as they did when working for the government or the legislator.

Scott Kuehne on February 2, 2011

This bill is crap, McCain-Feingold was unconstitutional crap too. It was drafted by two crap heads who wanted to hold onto power which is why it got overturned. Now all the losers like Feingold who got exposed for their traitorous actions are whining about how they got exposed. If they were doing what their constituents wanted they wouldn't have needed to try to silence all the pissed off constituents out there with bills like McCain-Feingold to begin with.

Lewis Walsh on February 2, 2011

An absolutely fine and necessary piece of legislation. Unfortunately, it has little chance of becoming law. The US is too far gone to change its present path. The Supreme Court has delivered the coup d gras to any chance the US may have had for a truly democratic legislative and electoral process. If you succeed, I will be delighted to have been proven wrong. Best wishes and good luck.

Steve E on February 2, 2011

Any bill brought up for a vote should be online in it's entirety for at least a week, lobbyists should be listed on the bill along with any contributions made to voting members. They are hiding all this information for a reason. It's a shell game.

Barbara A. Campbell on February 2, 2011

I think they need to do away with them, but since that will never happen, we must fight to get the information out to the public. I am in favor of redoing the laws that cover these people. I'm behind you and this endeavor. Go team!!

Garth on February 2, 2011

Thanks for all you're doing and please keep doing all this and more. These are issues, although extremely important, I'm not able to quite get my head around. I've been working with Half-n-Ten trying working on guidelines for some of those 'social networking' activities.

I know lobbying will enter in to this as well. Again, thank you! Keep strong and keep at it! (education, too! that's why I can "prove I'm humanity"!)

Frank Schutz on February 2, 2011

No act wil, initself, be sufficient. Like incom tax simplification, which won't happen in our lifetimes, too many people benefit financially from the current process. The cost of elections is huge and raising money demands listening to lobbyists. Unless election cost are reduced there will be no end to the payment for services which lobbists and their funding sources demand. A law that does not include a mechanism for identifying and punishing those that break the rules is worse than no law at all.

Sophie Andar on February 2, 2011

This is a fantastic effort and I am pleased to be in-the-know and spreading the word.
I am not sure where this fits, but I would add the need for reporting to remain accessible online. The reporting database should an an archive so we can track activities over time.

Kim S. on February 2, 2011

Corporations and special interests with their lobbyists are the blood suckers on any democratic system. The bribing of elected/public officials. How can they make decisions for the common good after they have accepted money and perks? Not only should it be regulated, it should be ILLEGAL. Reporting is better than nothing. Keep up the good work!

Neil Roberts on February 3, 2011

Dear Sunlight Foundation, Thank you for your selfless work!

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bribery)
"Bribery, a form of corruption, is an act implying money or gift given that alters the behavior of the recipient."
"Political campaign contributions in the form of cash, for example, are considered criminal acts of bribery in some countries,---------------------------- while in the United States they are legal."

Bribery to, or acceptance of a bribe of any kind by our legislators must be made 'illegal' in this country. Unfortunately our legislators aren't going to make any such law, and if they did it would be loaded with so many loopholes it would be virtually useless. Any law would have to be drafted by an honest citizen group and accepted by the legislators as is and unamendable except by the electorate. This legislation could be posted online along with the names of any legislators who refuse to submit or 'sponsor' it! Violators of any 'bribery legislation' should have to go before a jury of their constituents just like normal people do and not a jury of their peers, facing possible incarceration, loss of pension, healthcare, and all other perks or benefits they are or would have received. Good luck!

Ann Frutkin on February 3, 2011

Maybe This suggestion would eliminate some of the lobbyist's power.

If, after reading, this is not something you are interested in or support please delete. If this is of interest please forward. Thank you

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

I'm asking each addressee to forward this email to a minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one idea that really should be passed around.

Congressional Reform Act of 2011

  1. Term Limits.

12 years only, one of the possible options below..

A. Two Six-year Senate terms B. Six Two-year House terms C. One Six-year Senate term and three Two-Year House terms

  1. No Tenure / No Pension.

A Congressman collects a salary while in office and receives no pay when they are out of office.

  1. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security.

All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people.

  1. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans do.

  2. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%.

  3. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

  4. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American people.

  5. All contracts with past and present Congressmen are void effective 1/1/11.

The American people did not make this contract with Congressmen. Congressmen made all these contracts for themselves.

Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term(s), then go home and back to work.

If each person contacts a minimum of twenty people then it will only take three days for most people (in the U.S. ) to receive the message. Maybe it is time.

THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS!!!!! If you agree with the above, pass it on. If not, just delete

Larry Ottinger on February 8, 2011

I am a big fan of the Sunlight Foundation and of transparency. While well intended, unfortunately this proposal will not fix problems with the LDA but rather make them far worse in terms of both transparency and the public interest. First, the LDA is vastly overinclusive in that it requires registration by charity and other public-interest lobbyists many of whom have no financial conflicts of interest. The LDA also is vastly underinclusive in that it covers only registered, direct lobbyists and not most business executives, lawyers and public relations consultants who are not registered lobbyists. Finally, the Obama Administration has turned the LDA into a punitive statute that restricts public service and participation by top public-interest leaders without confronting the real problem of money in politics. See www.clpi.org and the January 21, 2010 letter signed by 13 public-interest organizations opposing the Administration's well-intended but misguided restrictions, including the Alliance for Children and Families, Common Cause, Consumers Union, Human Rights Watch, and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. So long as the LDA is no longer employed as a pure disclosure law, public-interest organizations will strongly oppose any attempts that will further chill much-needed policy engagement by the people through nonprofits while allowing private interests to continue business as usual. Broad civic engagement is the cornerstone of participatory democracy and democracy reforms must advance accountability, transparency and responsiveness through involvement of the people. Thanks!

Shawn Boike on March 3, 2011

Obama's first act as President was to eliminate the revolving door the Government employees and appointess have as lobbyists. He put a 2 year hold on that kind of revolving door activity, but allows them as Czars-it is still a step forward. Hopefully our future cecomes a better Governemtn For the People & By the People. The Supreme court ruling towards the corporate influence allowed, as towards a voter's Freedom Of Speach" will make it more difficult, as Obama pointed out.

DAVE CHOQUETTE on March 11, 2011

Transparency is a good start maybe even a patch on our corrupt government. But. Campaign reform is what can fix the problem

CONGRESS WISH LIST

1.) BALANCED BUDGET AMENDMENT FOR ALL MUNICIPALITIES STATES AND THE FEDERAL LEVALS   2.) SINGLE PURPOSE BILLS ONLY (NO RIDERS) or at least OUTLAW EARMARKS COMPLETELY   3.) TAX REFORM SUCH AS THE FAIR TAX or something close to it.   4.) We are tired of the politicians getting rich off the public coffers, which seems to be typical of virtually every politician from Washington down to our local governments and the main reason WE NEED CAMPAIN REFORM (misspelled intentionally).        A) Make independent and corporate contributions what they are, BRIBERY, punishable as a felony to both the purchaser and the purchased with jail time.        B)  Although definately not the first choice subsidizeing elections is better than paying for their ties to their bribers, er I mean contributers. This is done by giving ALL candidates that run for office the same amount of “credits” to purchase tv, radio, or print. These “credits” will be bought back buy the gov. only from advertisers that allow fair and equal access to all candidates. Those that don’t are prosecuted for bribery. Obviously the lower level offices require lower funding levels for running (mayor or city council ), just as higher offices require more funding to campaign nationwide (president)       C) Candidates cannot use their own money to run, and must return any unused funds after election day, failure to do so is THEFT. If the “credits” don’t last till the end of the election tough, if they can’t balance that budget I sure don’t want them with their fingers in the cookie jar.        D) NO PAID POSITIONS in the campaign by the candidate or by any outside entity, volunteers only which will bring gov. back to the people. This will also keep any entity from influencing the campaign with indirect money.        E) These are the basic rules I’m sure a few extras will be needed, but not 1000 pages and very few if any exceptions. COMMON SENSE SHOULD RULE SUPREME 5.) GO BACK TO THE CONSTITUTION WITH THE ORIGINAL 14 AMENDMENTS (I know this one is much harder to say than to do, but #3 will make this one step easier) Thank You for listening, please don't waste the opportunity, David

Neil Roberts on March 12, 2011

Keep up the good work but keep the 'Real Time Online Lobbying Transparency Act' as simple as possible.

If it's over a page long members of Congress won't read it!

Michael Schaeffer on March 14, 2011

I think this bill is perfect. It increases government transparency and shows the populace exactly who is influencing government policy and their reasons for doing so. This bill should be prioritized and passed as quickly as possible, without any stripping of provisions.

Julie Unruh on March 14, 2011

Make it short and simple, people know days do not like to read nor like to listen to what they should be reading. Get right to the facts, tell them what's up, this way or no way at all, tell them this is our country too, so they need to compromise.

Sylvia Kaneko on March 14, 2011

Please require disclosure of lobbying activities, particularly when funds are involved, within a tight time frame, perhaps on a weekly basis for oversight! It doesn't help to know after it is too late to attempt to curtail the activity or reverse it's effect. And filing legal action is often costly and ineffective, too late. The chickens are already eaten. The hen house empty!

Carol Diaz on March 14, 2011

"We the people" are the only ones that have the power and influence to stop them. Let's stand firm as Americans and take them on."Transparency.. Transparency.. Transparency!! We have the right to know! Enough is enough. Let's begin............

Robert Allen on March 15, 2011

why are you going for disclosure? use the KISS formula: lobbyists can be a good thing HOWEVER it should be a felony to bribe ANY elected represenative, period!

John Wirts on March 18, 2011

I think that any transparency bill should include the mandate that no one involved ie Lobbist, Politician, or Group hiring the lobbist can be exempted from any provision of the bill if it passes!!!