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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Lobbying Registration and Disclosure: The Role of the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate

Jacob R. Straus
Analyst on the Congress

On September 14, 2007, President George W. Bush signed S. 1, the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-81), into law. The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) amended the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (P.L. 104-65, as amended) to provide, among other changes to federal law and House and Senate rules, additional and more frequent disclosures of lobbying contacts and activities. This report explains the role of the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate in implementing lobbying registration and disclosure requirements and summarizes the guidance documents they have jointly issued.

Under the HLOGA and predecessor lobbying laws, the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate manage the registration, filing, and the collection of documents submitted by the lobbyists and lobbying firms. Prior to the HLOGA, lobbyists were required to file paper documents with both the Clerk and the Secretary. These forms are now filed electronically and jointly with the Clerk and the Secretary. In addition, the Clerk and the Secretary are responsible for making documents publicly available and reporting incorrect or false filings to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

Beginning in December 2007, the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate issued joint guidance documents for HLOGA implementation. The guidance document identified eight substantive changes to the 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act, and discussed how the Clerk and Secretary interpret and implement the HLOGA’s provisions. In addition, the guidance document provided direction on successful completion of quarterly registration and disclosure documents, the new semi-annual reporting requirement, and interpretation of the Clerk and Secretary’s role in referring non-compliance to the U.S. attorney.

Since its initial issuance, the Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate, pursuant to 2 U.S.C. §1605, have conducted periodic reviews of existing guidance and have issued multiple updates. Most recently, the document was updated on December 15, 2011, “to incorporate ... verbal guidance regarding the listing of the client names when work is performed on behalf of a third party,” and emphasize the requirement to report when a state and local government is the client.

For further analysis on the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act and the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), see CRS Report RL34166, Lobbying Law and Ethics Rules Changes in the 110
th Congress, by Jack Maskell; CRS Report RL31126, Lobbying Congress: An Overview of Legal Provisions and Congressional Ethics Rules, by Jack Maskell; CRS Report RS22566, Acceptance of Gifts by Members and Employees of the House of Representatives Under New Ethics Rules of the 110th Congress, by Jack Maskell; and CRS Report R40245, Lobbying Registration and Disclosure: Before and After the Enactment of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, by Jacob R. Straus.

Date of Report: March 7, 2013
Number of Pages: 13
Order Number: RL34377
Price: $29.95

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