We need you to call your U.S. senators to fight efforts to place federal control over virtually all grassroots lobbying activity. This means that all organizations and groups that encourage people to call their congressmen, including activist groups such as ours, will be subject to registration and reporting to Congress.
Section 220 of Senate Bill 1 (S. 1), the “Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007,” redefines lobbying to include “paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.” Organizations that engage in grassroots lobbying will have to comply with all federal lobbying disclosure laws, including registration with Congress and the filing of quarterly reports to Congress. Failure to comply would result in a fine of up to $100,000.
Currently, organizations do not need to report grassroots lobbying, which is when they contact their membership and the public or engage in some action that encourages people to call their federally elected officials. However, if Section 220 is included in S. 1, federal lobbying laws would apply to all groups that spend money to reach more than 500 people with a message urging them to contact their elected officials. For example, if a grassroots group has a paid employee who emails more than 500 people asking them to call Congress about some issue, or puts an article on the Internet that is likely to reach more than 500 people, the organization would be subject to federal lobbying laws.
Senate Bill 1 is a bipartisan bill and contains much-needed congressional reforms. Section 220, however, is not needed. It is unacceptable for Congress to attempt to require groups that encourage grassroots lobbying to be subject to registration and reporting to Congress.
Senator Robert Bennett has introduced an amendment cosponsored by Senator Mitch McConnell to strike section 220 from S. 1. The amendment could come up for a vote on the floor of the Senate as early as next Tuesday. Please call your U.S. senators and urge them to support the Bennett amendment (amendment 20) to S. 1.
Your message can be as simple as: “I am very concerned about the grassroots lobbying provisions in section 220 of Senate Bill 1, the ‘Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007.’ Please support the Bennett amendment to remove section 220 from S. 1. Organizations should not have to register with Congress in order to ask citizens to contact their elected officials.”
You can reach your U.S. senators by calling the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or by using our legislative toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=3602 .