Obama caused lobbyist deregistrations! (maybe not so much)

The Washington Post ran a story this past Monday looking at the phenomenon of lobbyist deregistrations that occurred in the wake of Obama’s election and subsequent crackdown on lobbyists. Here’s the gist:

A report from November last year, jointly written by OMB Watch and the Center for Responsive Politics,  showed nearly 1,500 deregistrations during the second quarter 2009–a significant increase over the previous two years–which seemed to be a response to Obama’s election and passage of new lobbying restrictions.

Then, two weeks ago, OMB Watch and the Center for Responsive Politics released another report showing all those deregistrations may not have been a result of Obama’s election after all. The problem, they say, is that “deregistration” is a vague term, and measuring data on when and why lobbyists deregister is difficult, making it extremely hard to draw conclusions on why exactly a deregistration spike may have occurred.

Regardless, the Washington Post article explains that it’s hard to definitively say that lobbyists who have “deregistered” have stopped all advocacy activities. In the article, Dave Wenhold, president of the American League of Lobbyists, says, “Do I think these people went back to Arkansas and became farmers? No, they just weren’t doing it 20 percent anymore.” Wenhold is referring, of course, to the 20 percent trigger whereby a lobbyist must register if they spend more than 20 percent of their time on behalf of a client lobbying.

Why would some lobbyists stay under the 20 percent trigger? Because of Obama’s stricter lobbying rules? Who knows.

Are you in compliance with all the lobbying disclosure rules? Check out Lobbyists.info’s Lobbying Compliance Center to find out.

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