Fee for Lobbyists Introduced in House

The OMB Watch blog “The Fine Print”points out the introduction of H.R. 5751, the “Fee on Lobbyists Act,” by Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio).

Rep. Kilroy’s press release links the introduction of the bill to what she views as improper influence by financial services lobbyists during the financial services debate. What does she propose to do about this problem? 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.”

Meaning? Fees. Specifically, 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.”

Translation: there will be a $25 fee per registration, per chamber (i.e., $25 to the Clerk of the House, and $25 to the Secretary of the Senate per registration; totaling $50 per year, per registration), and the same payment yearly, due upon filing the first quarter’s report.

Another section: penalties for improper filing. Failure to file a report 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 would be given to the House and Senate in order to conduct audits and quality control of filings.

According to Lobbyists.info’s Factors of Influence chart, Patton Boggs tops the list of “most clients,” with 299 registered.* So their fee for their total lobbying practice (assuming proper, timely filings) would be $14,950. Which is, for a firm that made almost $40-million last year in lobbying income, chump change.

When does this take affect? Rep. Kilroy’s bill is currently in the Judiciary 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.

Also: Intends to clean up inconsistencies between the House and Senate databases; provides for mandated public disclosure of late or incorrect filers (name would be removed from the list following proper filing and payment of the fee).

*current as of 4/29/2010

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