Lobbying Fees Considered in House

A bill introduced in the House Judiciary Committee would impose fees on lobbyists, based on their number of clients.

Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio) introduced H.R. 5751, the “Fee on Lobbyists Act,” in response to what she views as improper influence by financial services lobbyists during the financial services debate. Her bill “would properly enforce the rules for federal lobbyists and special interest groups by funding the offices that are tasked with holding lobbyists accountable.”

The text of the bill would “amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to require registrants to pay an annual fee of $50, to impose a penalty of $500 for failure to file timely reports required by that Act, to provide for the use of the funds from such fees and penalties for reviewing and auditing filings by registrants, and for other purposes.”

The fee would be broken down to be $25 per registration, per chamber. So the total fee would be $50 per registration (client). The same payment would be made yearly, upon filing the first quarter’s LD-2 report. (Provision is made for the eventuality that a registration and a first-quarter LD-2 report will coincide, with a fee waiver for that problem.)

Failure to file as required by the Lobbying Disclosure Act would result in a $500 fine; failure to file properly on subsequent occasions would impose a $1,000 fine. The fines (and normal fees) will be used to conduct audits and quality control of filings. Other measures within the bill include: clean up of inconsistencies between the House and Senate databases, and mandated public disclosure of late or incorrect filers (name would be removed from the list following proper filing and payment of the fee).

The bill, introduced on July 15, is currently in committee. Assuming passage, the bill provides for application of the fee structure to registrations filed at the end of the 60-day period after the bill’s enactment.

The text of H.R. 5751 is available here at THOMAS. Rep. Kilroy’s press release is here: “Kilroy Works to Bring Sunshine to Washington’s Darkest Corners.”

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