The Future of Digital Advocacy

June 22nd, 2017 by Allison Rosenstock

This year, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg vowed to use Facebook as a tool to increase civic engagement among users.  According to Tech Crunch, in part, this decision is a reaction to the role that Facebook played in U.S. elections, especially the 2016 Presidential election.  In March, Facebook released a new feature called “Town Hall,” which allows users to easily locate, follow, and contact their representatives at the local, state, and federal levels.

Because Facebook was accused of helping Donald Trump win by “doing nothing to prevent the spread of fake news and disinformation across its network,” Zuckerberg and his team have released new controls. These include PSAs on how to identify inaccurate reporting and downranking unreliable news stories from its Trending section.

In addition to the new censoring system, Facebook is making it easier for constituents to contact their representatives.  Now, you can share your rep’s contact information on your posts.  Elected officials can also communicate directly with constituents, and better understand them based on their digital footprint. Facebook has done this through the addition of three new features: constituent badges which allow elected officials to track constituent activity, constituent insights which allows elected officials to stay current with local news stories in their district, and district targeting which allows elected officials to receive feedback from constituents through Facebook directly.

Many in Washington now claim that “social media and digital advocacy, not traditional lobbying, as the fastest-growing segments of the influence industry according to a recent survey of Washington lobbyists, lawyers, association executives, and think tank leaders.” The greatest percentage of respondents- 38%- said they expect organizations to increase their social media presence to influence policymakers. The next largest percentage- 21%- believe organizations will increase their digital capabilities over the next five years.

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Lobbying in the Wake of the GOP Baseball Practice Shooting

June 15th, 2017 by Allison Rosenstock

According to an AP Report, following the shooting, the lobbying effort and a related hearing on gun silencers were canceled following the shooting on Wednesday. However, gun control lobbyists have not given- both on the federal level and the state level. They do not have a specific strategy moving forward to challenge the Trump administration and the Republican-led Congress. After the shooting, gun-control groups immediately showed support for the victims, then called for Congressional action. Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in 2011, also tweeted her support for her former colleagues.

The National Rifle Association has gone on the offensive stating that the Capitol police were the “good guys with guns [and] kept this from getting worse.” The NRA plans to push gun-friendly legislation at the state and federal level and argue against new gun-control measures. Trump allies appear to agree with this sentiment, including Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., who has a permit to carry a gun. He also claimed that he will be carrying his gun with him at all times from now on. According to the LA Times, Rep. Mo Brooks, who was shot at this Wednesday, continues to be pro-gun, pro-2nd Amendment. Further, according to a Washington Post report, the guns the shooter used were purchased from licensed dealers.

Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C., introduced the Hearing Protection Act to remove silencers from the National Firearms Act, which has regulated silencers and machine guns for more than 80 years. It is backed by the NRA. However, gun-control groups claim the bill puts gun manufacturer’s profits over safety. President Trump also signed a bill in February which blocked a rule that would have kept guns out of the hands of certain people with mental disorders.

From all the staff at Lobbyists.info, our thoughts are with all the victims, including lobbyist Matt Mika.

The Administration and Lobbying Activity

June 9th, 2017 by Allison Rosenstock

While Lobbyblog.com previously reported that President Donald Trump had a negative view on the lobbying industry on the campaign, the administration now finds themselves at the helm of three lobbying skirmishes.  First, which could prove to be positive, the administration has floated the idea of including solar panels on the planned Mexican border wall.  According to Politico, the solar power lobby is on board with the idea. The Solar Energy Industry Association appreciates President Trump’s apparent appreciation of the benefits of solar energy. While the border wall has not yet been approved, Trump may now have the support of the solar lobby.

Second, Democrats are starting a new nonprofit in the wake of the Obamacare debate. The nonprofit, Consumers for Quality Care, will be led by former Del. Donna Christensen and Jim Manley, former senior advisor to Sens. Harry Reid and Edward Kennedy. Scott Mulhauser, who was senior adviser to the Senate Finance Committee and former Vice President Biden, will also be involved.

Regarding the Travel Ban and Open Skies conflict, the Air Line Pilots Association accused U.S. Travel Association of essentially lobbying on behalf of the UAE. ALPS is now calling on U.S. Travel to register itself as a foreign agent and list the UAE on lobbying disclosure forms. Trump’s travel ban appears to have caused some controversy among the travel industry.

All three examples are tied to Trump administration policies or efforts. However, Trump is also involved in lobbying on a personal front.  According to the Wall Street Journal, Trump Hotel received $270,000 from a lobbying campaign tied to Saudi Arabia. The contribution was disclosed to the Justice Department, however it has sparked the interest of many in Washington. Lobbyblog will follow the story.

Mixed Results for Lobbyists So Far Under Trump

June 1st, 2017 by Matthew Barnes

After the outcome of the 2016 election many in Washington, D.C. expected a flurry of lobbying activity under the new 115th Congress and Administration. Republicans finally had control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. Many industry experts talked about the end of gridlock and a steady flow of legislative accomplishments. In fact, LobbyBlog has previously posted about the need to re-write one’s lobbying playbook under the Trump Administration. Some evidence, does point in this direction. As previously reported, “the lobbying industry has recorded its highest earnings in the first quarter for the past five years as many companies have invested heavily in lobbying activities aimed at the new administration and the Republican controlled congress.” However, per a new report in Roll Call, “clients have been hiring lobbyists at a reduced rate compared to 2009.”

According to the report, “Lobbyists and organizations that employ them filed 1,578 disclosure forms to indicate new client relationships beginning between January and April of this year. That’s only slightly higher than the number of clients in the same time period in 2015 — after the 2014 midterm elections — and 2013 — after Obama’s re-election victory. In both those years, the president’s party did not have a majority in both chambers of Congress. The last time one party controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House, the number of new clients was noticeably higher. Lobbyists took on 3,433 clients in 2009 in the months after Obama won his first presidential election — more than double the amount after President Donald Trump won.”

Not only has the rate of companies looking to hire lobbyists reduced when compared to 2009, “From January to March, the number of registered lobbyists dropped 10.3 percent compared to 2016’s first quarter, with only 9,175 official lobbyists on record. That number has been declining in recent years, but this is the biggest drop since lobbying reports started being reported quarterly,” according to Center for Responsive Politics report.

The Administration vs. OGE

May 24th, 2017 by Matthew Barnes

While on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump had quite the negative view of the lobbying industry. As early as in his announcement of his presidential bid, President Trump targeted the industry saying, “They [Politicians] will never make America great again. They don’t even have a chance. They’re controlled fully — they’re controlled fully by the lobbyists, by the donors, and by the special interests, fully. Yes, they control them.” After winning the election, President Trump had his transition team sign a code of ethical conduct, which included terms such as “During my service with the PETT, I will not, on behalf of any person or entity, engage in regulated lobbying activities, as defined by the Lobbying Disclosure Act, with or before any federal department or agency with respect to a particular matter for which I have direct and substantial responsibility as part of the PETT.” Then, once in office, President Trump issued an Executive Order, which included terms like “I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer or former clients, including regulations and contracts.” Nevertheless, his administration has come into conflict with it’s own Office of Government Ethics (OGE) over the issue of lobbying.

Per the New York Times, “The Trump administration, in a significant escalation of its clash with the government’s top ethics watchdog, has moved to block an effort to disclose the names of former lobbyists who have been granted waivers to work in the White House or federal agencies.” In response to the OGE’s request from every federal agency to provide copies of the waivers it had granted lobbyists, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney sent a letter to OGE Director Shaub questioning the legal authority of the request.

Director Shaub, who was appointed by President Barrack Obama, responded to Director Mulvaney in a “scalding, 10-page response to the White House late Monday, unlike just about any correspondence in the history of the office, created after the Nixon Watergate scandal,” reports the New York Times.  In the letter, Director Shaub writes, “OGE declines your request to suspend its ethics inquiry and reiterates its expectation that agencies will fully comply with its directive by June 1, 2017.”

The New York Times reports that, “Ethics watchdogs, as well as Democrats in Congress, have expressed concern at the number of former lobbyists taking high-ranking political jobs in the Trump administration. In many cases, they appear to be working on the exact topics they had previously handled on behalf of private-sector clients — including oil and gas companies and Wall Street banks — as recently as January.”

LobbyBlog will continue to monitor the latest developments of this story.

Lobby Groups Optimistic Over Healthcare Bill Changes in Senate

May 19th, 2017 by Matthew Barnes

After the House of Representatives passed H.R.1628 – American Health Care Act of 2017 to repeal and replace Obamacare, the bill was sent to the Senate, where many groups are hoping for major changes to the legislation. The Hill reports that, “industry groups felt largely cut out of the House’s drafting and passage of the American Health Care Act and now are clamoring for action to fix what they view as serious defects in the legislation.  Major hospital and doctor associations, for example, want people with health insurance to stay covered and are pushing to ensure adequate funding for the Medicaid program. Characterizing this wish list, one healthcare lobbyist put it simply: “Coverage, coverage, coverage.”

Groups wishing for major changes to the House bill are optimistic as Republican senators quickly suggested changes would be required. “We’re writing a Senate bill and not passing the House bill,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) in a Politico report. “We’ll take whatever good ideas we find there that meet our goals… There will be no artificial deadlines in the Senate. We’ll move with a sense of urgency but we won’t stop until we think we have it right.” said Alexander, who will be a leading figure in the Senate’s overhaul effort.”

Major outside influences such as the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, and AARP have all been critical of the House bill. AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond, wrote in a letter sent to every Senator earlier this week that, “The deeply flawed House bill would add an Age Tax, increasing health care costs by thousands of dollars each year we grow older, and put millions of American families at risk of finding health care unaffordable or unavailable…AARP urges you to ‘start from scratch’ and craft health care legislation that ensures robust insurance market protections, controls costs, improves quality, and provides affordable coverage to all Americans.”

Questions Swirl Over Transition Lobbyists

May 4th, 2017 by Matthew Barnes

Following his electoral victory in November, President Donald Trump issued a set of lobbying rules for those coming to work on his transition and for his administration. According to the President-Elect’s Transition Team (PETT) Code of Ethical Conduct, transition team members agreed “For 6 months after I leave, I will not on behalf of any other person or entity, engage in regulated lobbying activities, as defined by the Lobbying Disclosure Act, with respect to a particular matter for which I had direct and substantial responsibility during my service with PETT.” However, a recent Politico report has found at least nine members of the transition team, who have now registered as lobbyists.

According to the report, “Many are registered to lobby the same agencies or on the same issues they worked on during the transition, a POLITICO review of lobbying disclosures found. A former “sherpa” who helped to guide Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos through the Senate confirmation process is now registered to lobby her department. The former head of the transition’s tax policy team has returned to his old company to lobby Congress on tax reform. One ex-member of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative team is now registered as part of a team lobbying on behalf of a major steelmaker.”

However, the White House has responded to the claim saying, “We have no reason to believe nor has the Transition been presented with any evidence that any individual who signed the six-month agreement as part of his or her service with the Transition is in non-compliance,” Ken Nahigian, the transition’s executive director, said in a statement, adding that the transition is “open to receiving” any evidence that does exist.

Highest Q1 Lobbying Spending Since 2012

April 26th, 2017 by Matthew Barnes

Despite President Trump’s promises to drain the swamp under his administration, the lobbying industry has recorded its highest earnings in the first quarter for the past five years as many companies have invested heavily in lobbying activities aimed at the new administration and the Republican controlled congress. The Washington Post reports, “The first 100 days of the Trump administration have been extremely chaotic,” said Muftiah M. McCartin, a vice chair at Covington & Burling, which saw a 32 percent spike in earnings from lobbying, the largest growth of any firm. “As a result, companies across the globe are seeking assistance to help navigate the new administration.” The biggest spenders on lobbying were the pharmaceutical and health care industries. Per the Center of Responsive Politics the “industry spent the most at $78 million, about $10 million more than it did during the same period in 2016 for a 14 percent increase. (PhRMA did have the biggest spending spike of the top 10 spenders.)” Much of the activity by this industry can be attributed to the on-going battle to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Interestingly, despite the uptick in Q1 lobbying revenue, the number of registered lobbyists has decreased. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, “From January to March, the number of registered lobbyists dropped 10.3 percent compared to 2016’s first quarter, with only 9,175 official lobbyists on record. That number has been declining in recent years, but this is the biggest drop since lobbying reports started being reported quarterly.”

Below are Politico’s rankings of the top lobbying earners in the first quarter of 2017.

  1. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: $9.1 million
  2. Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck: $6.6 million
  3. Squire Patton Boggs: $5.8 million
  4. The Podesta Group: $5.6 million
  5. Holland & Knight: $5.1 million
  6. BGR Government Affairs: $5 million
  7. Cornerstone Government Affairs: $4.5 million
  8. K&L Gates: $4.3 million
  9. Covington & Burling: $4.2 million
  10. Capitol Counsel: $4.1 million*
  11. Williams & Jensen: $3.9 million
  12. Van Scoyoc Associates: $4 million*
  13. Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas: $3.6 million
  14. Cassidy & Associates: $3.4 million
  15. Ernst & Young: $3.4 million*
  16. Peck Madigan Jones: $3.3 million*
  17. Fierce Government Relations: $3.2 million
  18. Capitol Tax Partners: $3.2 million*
  19. Ogilvy Government Relations: $2.9 million
  20. Alston & Bird: $2.7 million

GAO’s 2016 Compliance and Enforcement Report

April 20th, 2017 by Matthew Barnes

Earlier this month the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its tenth annual report on compliance with and enforcement of the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA). The GAO found that “some lobbyists were still unclear about the need to disclose certain previously held covered positions, such as paid congressional internships or certain executive agency positions. GAO estimates that 15 percent of all LD-2 reports may not have properly disclosed 1 or more previously held covered positions. However, over the past several years of reporting on lobbying disclosure, GAO has found that most lobbyists in the sample rated the terms associated with LD-2 reporting as “very easy” or “somewhat easy” to understand.”

In regards to enforcement Andrew Garrahan of Covington and Burling reports that, “Another interesting development is that the House and Senate have not referred any individual lobbyists to the USAO for LD-203 noncompliance since 2013, and have not referred any lobbyist employer for LD-203 noncompliance since 2014.”

Additionally, Garrahan argues that “based on GAO’s report, the USAO appears to have focused its enforcement efforts on “chronic offenders,” those lobbyists who “repeatedly fail to file reports.”  These chronic offenders are referred to an Assistant U.S. Attorney for follow-up action, and the USAO reports it has created a new notice for chronic offenders that lists all of their outstanding referrals.  Per GAO, the USAO has four chronic offender cases under investigation, and expects to resolve all of them this year.  Furthermore, it expects to open more chronic offender cases by the end of 2017.”

Revised LDA Guidance

April 7th, 2017 by Matthew Barnes

Following the annual review of Lobbying Disclosure Act Guidance, Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives issued revised guidance on January 31st, 2017.  Outlined below are the new updates included in the revised guidance. The full revised guidance can be found here.

Updated Registration Threshold

As required by the LDA, the lobbying disclosure thresholds referenced throughout the Guidance have been updated to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index (as determined by the Secretary of Labor) during the preceding 4-year period. After January 1, 2017, an organization employing in-house lobbyists is exempt from registration if its total expenses for lobbying activities does not exceed and is not expected to exceed $13,000 during a quarterly period. The $3,000 income threshold for lobbying firms remains unchanged. See Guidance Section 4 on “Who Must Register and When” for additional information.

The previous Guidance update included non-substantive grammatical changes throughout and revisions to sections that previously referred to Line numbers in the reporting forms, as the current online filing system no longer relies on Line numbers. References to the LDA were also revised to identify the citation from the U.S. Code, with Internet links added in the online Guidance document to the U.S. Code.

Identification of Client and Covered Officials

Clarification is added in Guidance Section 4 to reflect the requirement of lobbyists to identify their client and interest of foreign entities when making lobbying contacts, and the requirement of covered officials or their employing office to identify whether the individual is a covered official.

Outside Retained Lobbyists

Guidance Section 4 includes an additional example confirming that outside retained lobbyist names are not reported on the registration (LD-1) or quarterly activity reports (LD-2) of organizations that employ in-house lobbyists. The section re-affirms that outside retained lobbying costs must be taken into account when calculating lobbying expenses. Outside retained lobbyists file their own registration and quarterly reports.

Income and Expense Rounding and Reporting, Agencies Contacted

Guidance Section 6 includes a new example to clarify that income or expenses are required to be rounded to the nearest $10,000. Another example is expanded to suggest care be taken when an organization uses an entire office budget for reporting purposes, since additional lobbying expenses need to be factored in and may be overlooked when using such an expense reporting method. In the discussion of “Contents of the Report,” additional clarification is added to confirm that filers should choose the most specific Agency available from the reporting system list. If the list does not display the government entity contacted, the filer is advised to select the agency or department in which the entity is housed.

Lobbyist and Registrant Contribution Reports (LD-203)

An example is added to Guidance Section 7 to make it clear that sole proprietors, including those who register with their lobbyist name as the registrant name, are required to file two contribution reports each filing period—one report for the registrant and one report for the individual lobbyist.

Public Availability and Compliance

In Guidance Section 10, filers are encouraged to use the online public databases for compliance purposes, to verify that registrations and reports have been received and processed into the public databases. Registrations and reports are available online at the House website at http://lobbyingdisclosure.house.gov, as well as the Senate website at http://www.senate.gov/lobby.

 

Open Skies Issues Remain Under Trump

March 30th, 2017 by Matthew Barnes

This week the U.S. Travel Association flew in hundreds of travel executives to meet with members on a range of issues including the “Open Skies” agreements. According to Politico, Delta, American and United have been lobbying the Trump administration to take action against the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, which they accuse of violating their agreements with the U.S. by subsidizing their state-owned carriers, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways. The travel executives have taken the side of the Persian Gulf carriers and will tell members “that Open Skies agreements have been critical to America’s efforts to capture a share of the highly lucrative international travel market,” Cathy Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Travel Association, wrote in an email.”

All three airlines are part of the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies, a coalition of airline companies and related organizations. In 2015, under the Obama Administration, the group spent $6.1 million lobbying. The group has continued its efforts under the Trump Administration. Politico reports that the coalition has “sent letters to President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and has been running TV ads on the issue.”

Trump Linked Industries Are Early Winners

March 24th, 2017 by Matthew Barnes

Since the election of President Trump organizations from an array of industries have been focusing on re-writing their government relations playbook for the new administration. For the first time in 8 years, organizations feel like there is a chance to usher through substantial changes on Capitol Hill.  According to Jeffrey Taylor, Managing Partner of USGRI.com, “Based on President Trump’s cabinet, the policy and management differences with the outgoing Obama Administration will be stark, substantial, significant, and aimed at systemic change in nearly every area of government policy that affects business.”

 

Industries that has already begun to see change during the Trump Administration include a few of the President’s favorites: real estate, construction, entertainment, hospitality, gambling and, golf courses. Politico reports, “Since taking office in January, Trump has made moves — from rolling back water quality permits to signaling big changes on overtime pay and internet betting — that benefit the fields he knows best. And his former peers — partners and competitors alike — are finding familiar faces in Trump’s White House and Cabinet agencies, who have the power to make even more of their wish lists come true…This is the first time a president of the United States is someone so familiar with private clubs,” said Henry Wallmeyer, president and CEO of the National Club Association, the trade group for private clubs. “That’s a unique circumstance.”

Re-writing the Playbook Under Trump

March 2nd, 2017 by Matthew Barnes

When President Trump took office many industries and organizations new that it would call for a re-examining of the lobbying playbook. Throughout his campaign, Trump called for a draining of the swamp and to implement new lobbying reforms. Moreover, Republicans won a supermajority in the 2016 elections, changing the political landscape of Washington, D.C. Jeffrey Taylor, Managing Partner of USGRI.com, argues that “Some presidential transitions are so Earth shaking that they require companies to conduct a much deeper analysis of their government relations plans; Carter to Reagan, Bush to Clinton, Clinton to Bush, Bush to Obama were all substantial ideological flips… but Obama to Trump is not your typical transfer of power.  It is a monster change in direction for the U.S.; and by extension for U.S. and foreign business and industry.”

When President Obama took office in 2009, he also had supermajorities in both chambers of Congress, many companies initiated a new government relations efforts. However, according to Taylor, “Based on President Trump’s cabinet, the policy and management differences with the outgoing Obama Administration will be stark, substantial, significant, and aimed at systemic change in nearly every area of government policy that affects business.” This means companies need to re-write their playbook for the new administration.                                                                             

However, Taylor also argues that “those that want to engage in a first-time government relations effort don’t need to carve out a big lobbying budget, there are firms that can capably and economically represent your company in Washington for a reasonable budget – and it gets you in the game!”

In the Trump era, one strategy that organizations will employ is how they frame their argument. Taylor suggests that President Trump “believes – rightly or wrongly – that he’s beholden to no one for his victory, except ‘middle America’ who elected him. In the past few week, he and his Administration has come to adopt a message of fighting for the ‘forgotten man’.” President Trump indicated this in his first speech before a Joint Session of Congress saying, “Dying industries will come roaring back to life.  Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need.  Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve.  Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our very, very beautiful land.  Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and, ultimately, stop.  And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety and opportunity.  Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people.” Therefore, organizations that can frame their argument as being advantageous to the average American will be significantly more impactful.

Lobbying Transparency In the E.U.

February 17th, 2017 by Matthew Barnes

This week’s lobby log post looks into the current debate over lobbying transparency in the European Union. Currently steps are being made to make lobbying more transparent through the introduction of a mandatory transparency register. Politico reports, “Negotiations on setting up a mandatory transparency register, which lobbyists and activists would have to sign up to in order to meet with MEPs and senior EU officials, are to begin behind closed doors in the coming months. But lawyers from the Council of the EU, representing governments, have already raised questions about the legality of the plan.”

In 2011 the European Commission, the executive of the E.U. headed by President Juncker, and the European Parliament, composed of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who are directly elected by voters in each of the 28 Member States, created a voluntary lobbying register. Politico reports that, “As of Thursday, 11,191 organizations — including consultancies, trade associations and NGOs — had voluntarily signed up to the existing register…The [new] idea is to expand that register, make meetings with senior EU officials conditional on being signed up to it, and give it more staff and resources.” However, lobbyists have also complained that regulations in individual member states overlap the current E.U. initiative.  For example, “Ireland…introduced its own register in 2015 which covers meetings with MEPs as well as national politicians,” according to Politico.

The problem historically with creating such a registry in the E.U. has been the Council. “So far, we never got the Council on board,” said Hübner [chair of the Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee] “We never managed to have the three institutions on board and we never managed to make it obligatory.”

The Council is the main-decision making body of the each where “government ministers from each E.U. country meet to discuss, amend and adopt laws, and coordinate policies. The ministers have the authority to commit their governments to the actions agreed on in the meeting.” The Council opposes the initiate because it argues, “the Commission’s decision to regulate lobbying by using a so-called inter-institutional agreement is problematic — and possibly not legal,” according to a legal opinion obtained by Politico.

Despite Activity, Number of Registered Lobbyists Declines

February 10th, 2017 by Matthew Barnes

Since his inauguration, President Trump and the Republican controlled Congress have worked at light-speed to dismantle many Obama-era regulations like the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. On Friday, Feb. 3, 2017 President Trump issued the “Presidential Executive Order on Core Principles for Regulating the United States Financial System” executive order, which according to Politico “backed sweeping changes to U.S. financial regulations…taking the first step toward undoing one of his predecessor’s signature legislative initiatives.”

Such actions have ignited fierce debate and lobbying activity. However, the Wall Street Journal reports that, “The number of federal lobbyist registrations last year fell to its lowest mark in 18 years, according to an analysis of new public records, as lobbyists increasingly exploit loopholes in disclosure rules. Some 11,143 total lobbyists filed registrations in 2016, down from 14,153 in 2008, the year before President Barack Obama took office—a decrease of nearly 30%, according to an analysis of lobbying records by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.”