I related this to a friend who runs a lobbying firm and she shared a similar story. In a conversation with her compliance lawyers she was unable to get a straight answer on what counts and what doesn’t. She then instructed her employees to register as federal lobbyists and to report 100% of their time as lobbying.
When the first report was filed, her lawyers called and said, “you can’t back up a claim that 100% of your time was lobbying.” So she said, “Tell me this. What’s the penalty for over-reporting?”
There is no penalty, they said.
“And what’s the penalty for under-reporting?” she asked.
There are financial penalties, possible jail time, etc.
“So why,” she asked, “would I risk that if having my employees register and report all their time as lobbying would prevent it?”
Needless to say, the lawyers had no good answer. Simply reporting all of your time as lobbying meant nothing, but getting it wrong was criminal.
So Congressional Democrats, to prove they dealt with the lobbying scandal, created a law that nobody understands, is ridiculously complicated to comply with, and contains a loophole that completely negates the disclosure they were hoping for.
Good work, guys.