Our organizations strongly urge you to support the Obama-Feingold amendment to require lobbyists and lobbying organizations to disclose the contributions they collect or arrange for federal officeholders and candidates, leadership PACs and party committees.
This amendment deals with one of the most important issues pending in the Senate - the ability of citizens to know the contributions that lobbyists and lobbying organizations are providing to members of Congress and others.
Currently, the pending Reid-McConnell substitute would require lobbyists to disclose on their lobbying reports the contributions they directly make and the fundraising events they hold for federal officeholders and candidates, leadership PACs and party committees.
Contributions directly made by lobbyists and the fundraisers they hold, however, are only a part of the campaign funds that lobbyists provide to members of Congress, their leadership PACs, party committees and other recipients. Lobbyists also often collect or arrange large amounts of contributions made by others for these same recipients. Without disclosing this information as well, a huge disclosure loophole will exist in the lobbying disclosure requirements in the law.
The practice by lobbyists of collecting or arranging contributions for Senators, presidential candidates and other recipients often results in far more money being provided by the lobbyist to these recipients than the money directly given by a lobbyist or the amount raised through a fundraiser event sponsored by the lobbyist.
All of this information should be available to the public.
Public disclosure of campaign contributions is a bedrock principle. If it is appropriate to require lobbyists to disclose on their lobbying disclosure reports the contributions they make and the fundraising events they hold for federal officeholders and candidates, leadership PACs and party committees, as the pending Reid-McConnell substitute requires, it is certainly appropriate to require lobbyists also to disclose the additional contributions they collect or arrange for these same recipients.
From the public's point of view, it all represents money provided by the lobbyist to the recipient and it all should be disclosed.
There is no credible argument for failing to provide this information to citizens.
Information about all of the funds provided by lobbyists to lawmakers - including the total sums they collect or arrange for members of Congress - is directly related to the activities which lobbyists are conducting in Congress. Disclosure of this information is essential in order for the public to fully understand the role being played by lobbyists in Congress.
We urge you to vote for the Obama-Feingold amendment to require lobbyists and lobbying organizations to disclose the contributions they collect or arrange for federal officeholders and candidates, leadership PACs and party committees, and to oppose any efforts to weaken the amendment.
Campaign Legal Center
League of Women Voters