Summary: S.2128 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to Senate with amendment(s) (03/03/2006)

Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act of 2006 - Title I: Enhancing Lobbying Disclosure - (Sec. 101) Amends the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (LDA) to require: (1) quarterly instead of semiannual filing of lobbying disclosures reports; (2) an annual report on registered lobbyists' contributions; (3) maintenance of certain lobbying disclosure information in an electronic database, available to the public free of charge over the Internet; (4) disclosure by registered lobbyists of all past executive and congressional employment; and (5) disclosure of registered lobbyists' payments or reimbursements for travel and related expenses of covered legislative and executive branch officials.

(Sec. 106) Increases from $50,000 to $100,000 the penalty for failure to comply with lobbying disclosure requirements.

(Sec. 107) Revises requirements for the contents of lobbyist registrations, particularly disclosure of the identity of any organization, other than the client, that contributes over $10,000 toward the registrant's lobbying activities in a semiannual period, and participates in a substantial way (currently, in whole or in major part) in the planning, supervision, or control of such lobbying activities. Waives such disclosure if it is publicly available knowledge that the organization is affiliated with the client, or has been publicly disclosed to have provided funding to the client, unless the organization in whole or in major part plans, supervises or controls such lobbying activities.

Provides that nothing in such disclosure requirement shall be construed to require disclosure of any information about individuals who are members of, or donors to, an entity treated as a client or its identified organization.

(Sec. 108) Requires the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives to provide, semiannually, to specified congressional committees the aggregate number of lobbyists and lobbying firms, separately accounted, referred to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia for LDA noncompliance.

Requires the U.S. Attorney to report, semiannually, to such committees on the aggregate number of enforcement actions taken by the Attorney's office under the LDA and the amount of fines, if any, by case, but not the names of individuals or personally identifiable information.

(Sec. 109) Requires mandatory lobbyist reports to be filed electronically, in addition to any other form required.

(Sec. 110) Includes among lobbying activities any paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying, but excludes grassroots lobbying itself.

Defines "grassroots lobbying" as the voluntary efforts of members of the general public to communicate their own views on an issue to federal officials or to encourage other members of the general public to do the same.

Defines "grassroots lobbying firm" as a person or entity that: (1) is retained by one or more clients to engage in paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying on behalf of such clients; and (2) receives income of, or spends or agrees to spend, an aggregate of $25,000 or more for such efforts in any quarterly period.

Excludes paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying from the exemption from the registration requirement (thus, requiring LDA registration for such activities, regardless of low income or expenses).

Requires registration of a grassroots lobbying firm within 45 days after it is first retained by a client to engage in paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.

Modifies requirements for the contents of reports by a registered lobbying firm or individual to require separate itemization of total income or expenses relating to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying (including advertising).

Exempts reports relating to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying activities from LDA requirements for: (1) a statement about the chambers of Congress and federal agencies contacted by lobbyists employed by the registrant on behalf of the client; and (2) a list of the registrant's employees who acted as lobbyists on behalf of the client.

Modifies requirements for the estimate of income or expenses of registered lobbyists to specify different requirements for estimates relating to paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.

Revises requirements for such estimates based on the tax reporting system with respect to such paid efforts.

Title II: Oversight of Ethics and Lobbying - (Sec. 201) Requires the Comptroller General to audit and report to Congress annually on lobbying registration and reports for LDA compliance or noncompliance by lobbyists and their clients.

(Sec. 202) Requires the Select Committee on Ethics to conduct ongoing ethics training and awareness programs for Members of the Senate and Senate staff.

(Sec. 203) Expresses the sense of the Senate that the lobbying community should develop proposals for multiple self-regulatory organizations which could provide for: (1) creation of standards for the organizations appropriate to the type of lobbying and individuals to be served; (2) training for the lobbying community on law, ethics, reporting requirements, and disclosure requirements; (3) development of educational materials for the public on how to hire a lobbyist or lobby firm responsibly; (4) standards regarding reasonable fees to clients; (5) creation of a third-party certification program that includes ethics training; and (6) disclosure of requirements to clients regarding fee schedules and conflict of interest rules.

(Sec. 204) Requires the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics (ethics committees) each to report annually on alleged ethics violations and complaints.

Title III: Slowing the Revolving Door - (Sec. 301) Amends the federal criminal code to extend from one to two years the ban on lobbying contacts by former very senior executive personnel, former Members of Congress, and officers of the legislative branch with any Member, officer, or employee of the entity in which such person served before his or her tenure terminated.

Prohibits former employees of either chamber of Congress, within one year after leaving office, from making lobbying contacts with a Member, officer, or employee of either chamber.

Title IV: Ban on Provision of Gifts or Travel by Lobbyists in Violation of the Rules of Congress - (Sec. 401) Amends the LDA to prohibit a registered lobbyist from knowingly making a gift or providing travel to a Member, officer, or employee of Congress, unless the gift or travel may be accepted under the rules of the House or the Senate.

Subjects such lobbyist to LDA penalties for violating this ban.

Title V: Commission to Strengthen Confidence in Congress Act of 2006 - Commission to Strengthen Confidence in Congress Act of 2006 - (Sec. 502) Establishes in the legislative branch the Commission to Strengthen Confidence in Congress to evaluate and report to Congress on congressional ethics requirements and to recommend improvements to ethical safeguards.

(Sec. 510) Authorizes appropriations.