Thursday, January 26, 2006

K St. counteroffensive

The Hill

Big trade associations — lobbyists — are getting ready to fight the sharp tightening of lobbying regulations.

The board of directors of the American League of Lobbyists (ALL), a trade association representing lobbyists, met Monday to discuss the various reform proposals and to lay plans for a coalition of lobbying heavyweights to work with lawmakers to review them.

“Our big issue right now is that we’re not sure you can say the system is broken,” Paul Miller, ALL’s president, said in an interview. “We’ve got to start with enforcement, and that’s our message to Congress. We want to make sure they find a way to enforce the current rules before they make up any new rules.”

Momentum for reform is building. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee is scheduled today to consider how to respond to concerns raised by the scandal surrounding lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who has pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud, conspiracy to bribe and tax evasion.

Miller said a coordination effort is under way among several of the biggest business lobbying groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and others. A similar coalition was formed in 1995 when Congress last seriously scrutinized lobbying regulations, Miller said.

Some of the groups Miller cites seem leery about joining the effort to influence reform proposals when criticism of lobbyists is so intense both on and off Capitol Hill.........

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