GM 12-024

American Bar Association Report on Recommended Changes to Federal Lobbying Laws

On January 3, 2011, the American Bar Association (ABA) Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice, Task Force on Federal Lobbying Laws (Task Force), published its final report on the condition of U.S. lobbying laws and made recommendations for improvements. The ABA Governmental Affairs Office is currently working on Capitol Hill to spark an interest in introducing legislation based on the proposals contained in the report. Though legislative activity this year seems unlikely, the ABA report included proposals that, if enacted into law, would introduce significant new restrictions and requirements for both lobbyists and their clients. We have summarized the report in the attached document.

Among its recommendations, the report proposes an expansion in registration and disclosure requirements applicable to lobbying firms, while suggesting that not every employee listed by a firm as engaging in lobbying activities be legally characterized as a “registered lobbyist” – a characterization that carries both formal and informal consequences. Current law requires that a firm or organization register only when it employs an individual who makes more than one lobbying contact and whose lobbying activities constitute twenty percent or more of the time that employee spends on services for a client. The Task Force proposals would broaden this requirement by counting lobbying contacts by all firm employees in the aggregate and by removing the twenty percent rule, relying instead on a threshold income amount. Firms would also be required to disclose all lobbying support activities (as opposed to just the actual lobbying contacts) by their own employees as well as the activities of all other persons or entities retained by them. In addition, the recommendations would require clients of registered firms to file reports disclosing additional lobbying support that they themselves procured or performed.

Many other changes are recommended. The full report is available on the ABA’s website,, and we have attached hereto our detailed summary. Please let us know if you would like further information on this topic, or have any questions.