Posts Tagged ‘Department of Justice’
Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 by Vbhotla
AGGRESSIVE CRACKDOWNS ON Lobbying Disclosure Act violations are rarely seen, but last week The Hill, in what it called a “bombshell,” reported that at the end of its most recent report, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) “voted to refer one entity to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for failure to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.”
This is particularly noteworthy because as Covington & Burling’s Robert Kelner notes in the National Law Review, unregistered lobbyists have rarely, if ever, been pursued by the OCE or the Department of Justice. Kelner attributes the lack of enforcement to illegal lobbying being relatively low on the DOJ’s list of priorities, as well as a lack of media attention to LDA violations.
However, as we wrote in this space back in March, that may be changing. Since 2010, we’ve seen an uptick in enforcement for failure to file quarterly lobbying disclosures and for FARA violations. Between 1995 and 2010, only three lawsuits filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office against lobbyists were settled, but since 2010, at least five suits have been filed related to HLOGA and FARA violations. With the revelations in OCE’s latest report, are we beginning to see the kind of enforcement that these laws originally intended?
With the lobbying industry increasingly operating underground, it seems likely that last week’s bombshell won’t be the last incident of illegal unregistered lobbying, but only time will tell if the OCE has more investigations underway or if this is an isolated incident.
Tags: Department of Justice, doj, FARA, LDA, OCE, Office of Congressional Ethics, robert kelner
Posted in Lobbying News, Regulations | Comments Off on Registration Crackdown
Thursday, May 8th, 2014 by Geoffrey Lyons
IT’S NOT JUST to satisfy a peculiar curiosity that one studies the minutiae of Taiwan’s lobbying disclosure. Nor does one graph data from Canada’s Federal Lobbying Registry to pass the time. These things are done, rather, in an effort to better understand “the impacts of technology-driven transparency policies around the world.” It’s in the hope of learning something useful that the Sunlight Foundation, with funding from Google.org, Google’s charitable arm, is taking this initiative very seriously.
Lobbying disclosure is only one issue area in the research, but will include three case studies: Canada, Hungary, and Taiwan. So far only an analysis of Canada’s disclosure has been published, with Hungary and Taiwan forthcoming.
The Canadian case study is staggeringly detailed: an over 5,000-word analysis is accompanied by three graphs and over four hours of interviews with experts on the country’s disclosure framework. Whether this impressive assemblage of data will have any application in the U.S. is yet to be seen, but it would surely be a shame if it didn’t at least point us in the right direction. The section on enforcement, for example, argues that Canada’s Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying is a “credible threat.” If we learned from our neighbors, perhaps the same could be said for our Department of Justice.
Tags: Department of Justice, Google.org, Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying, Sunglight Foundation
Posted in Lobbying News | Comments Off on Disclosure ‘Round the World
Thursday, September 29th, 2011 by Vbhotla
Friends of the Earth, a national pro-environment group, has asked the Department of Justice to investigate the lobbying activities of TransCanada official Paul Elliott. The group contends that Elliott, who was once an aide to Hilary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, failed to register as a lobbyist for over a year while he petitioned the Obama administration (including Clinton’s State Department) to approve a TransCanada pipeline.
Friends of the Earth accuses the State Department of granting “inappropriate favors,” “coaching” responses to probes” and maintaining a “cozy relationship” with Elliott and TransCanada. The group says that Elliott “sought to exploit his campaign ties to secure high-level meetings,” and violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by failing to disclose his interests as a foreign agent and subsequently register with the Department of Justice under the Act.
Tags: Department of Justice, doj, FARA, Foreign Agents Registration Act, friends of the earth, investigation, lobbying probe, Lobbyists and the Obama Administration, paul elliott, TransCanada, US State Dept
Posted in Lobbying News | Comments Off on Environmental Group calls for Probe into Lobbyist’s Activities
Monday, February 28th, 2011 by Vbhotla
The Department of Justice has some concerns about a pending merger between internet giant Google and ITA, a flight information software company. Google announced the acquisition July 1, 2010. Initial reactions around the business community were that the deal merely increased Google’s business; it did not threaten the existence of other travel sites. But members of FairSearch.org, an organization comprised of top internet travel sites, including Expedia, Hotwire, TripAdvisor, Kayak, fear that Google may try to leverage its dominance in the internet search industry to promote its product, thereby damaging their own.
The Department of Justice is threatening to block the merger, and the parties are in negotiations. Insiders are unable to predict whether a deal is within days or whether it will fall apart completely. Google spent nearly $12 million on in-house lobbying around anti-trust, privacy, and competition among other issues between 2008-2010. The company spent an additional $5.4 million on retained firms over the same time period.
Though Google contends that it does not intend to set prices or sell tickets, and that its acquisition will make airfare searches easier and drive “more potential customers to airlines’ and online travel agencies’ websites,” Bing, which is in direct competition with Google, relies on the software for its travel site as well.
Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) wrote to Attorney General Christine A. Varney last year from his position on the Antitrust subcommittee to outline concerns over competition and antitrust issues raised by the acquisition, and saying it “warrants a careful review.” Consumer Reports said it is “concerned that the Google-ITA acquisition has the potential to limit consumer choice in the already complex marketplace of online travel, particularly after such a deal were to be finalized.”
Tags: Department of Justice, Google, google acquisition, google merger, ITA
Posted in Government Relations Alert | Comments Off on Google, DOJ square off on acquisition
Monday, August 23rd, 2010 by Vbhotla
The government has ended a six-year investigation of former House Majority Leader Tom Delay’s (R-Texas)’s ties to the disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The news was relayed by DeLay’s lead counsel in the matter, Richard Cullen, chairman of law firm McGuireWoods, who said he received a call from the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section informing him of the decision and letting him know that it was approved for public knowledge.
The extraordinarily long (more than 6 years) and expensive probe marked the rise of a wave of lobbying scandals that helped Democrats regain the House majority in 2006. In 2005, a Texas court charged DeLay with criminal violations of state campaign finance laws and money laundering. He pled not guilty, citing political motivation for the charges.
Once one of Washington’s top power brokers, DeLay now spends most of his time at his home in Sugar Land, Texas, and recently starred in the reality show, ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ He is also founder and president of a strategic political consulting firm, First Principles, which he launched after he stepped down from his Congressional seat in 2005.
Abramoff was released to a Baltimore half-way house in December 2009. Another figure in the case, ex-Rep. John Doolittle, was cleared in June. Kevin Ring, a former staff for Doolittle, and then a lobbyist for Abramoff, was refused an injunction on his own corruption case by Federal Judge Ellen Huvelle last week; Ring’s attorneys sought to get his case thrown out after the Honest Services Fraud statute was weakened by the Supreme Court in June.
A timeline of charges against DeLay is here from National Journal. A POLITICO article on the DeLay case is here.
Tags: Department of Justice, Jack Abramoff, Tom DeLay
Posted in Government Relations Alert | Comments Off on DeLay Investigation Is Over, According to DOJ