Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lobbyists as Campaign Fundraisers

News comes from the national arena that Congress is considering lobbying reforms. The national lobbying regulation law is already stronger than Illinois, but the feds are now thinking about opening up the link between lobbying and campaign finance. According to the New York Times, the proposal would require lobbyists to disclose their role as bundlers -- people who collect checks for candidates and act as middlemen between donors and PACs.

Illinois' legislature is considering several reforms relating to lobbying. HB 8 would tighten disclosure requirements, bringing Illinois into line with most other states (not to mention Chicago and Cook County) by requiring lobbyists to disclose the terms of their contracts. The measure would also create a first-ever enforcement mechanism to make certain that lobbyists are registered properly. And it would shut the revolving door between most state employees and officials, barring them from lobbying their former colleagues until a cooling-off period had elapsed. HB 8 is on the House floor, waiting to be called for a final vote.

Language relating to bundling is also before the legislature. HB 3497 is generally seen as a limits bill, but it contains language to require disclosure of the role of bundlers in campaign finance. Bundlers would have to report which checks they collected, which would not count against their own limits. HB 3497 had a subject matter hearing, and we anticipate the conversation about limits will only intensify.

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