Senate lobbying reform bill gets right winger Viguerie up in arms

Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 05:34 PM

Good old Richard Viguerie has issued a press release claiming that the Senate lobbying reform bill (S.1) will require bloggers with more than 500 visitors to register as lobbyists.

{Note: if you want to see who the hell Viguerie is, go to Wikipedi's description of him}

On the other hand, Seeing the Forest for the Trees blogs that Viguerie is wrong, that registration will only be required if  you are "paid more than $25,000" to lobby.

I took a look at the section of the bill that gets Viguerie upset, section 220.  It's not easy to understand or crystal clear by any means, but I did try to follow the amendments to the existing statutory language and, as far as I can tell, they're both wrong.

What I find in looking at section 220 of S.1 is that "lobbying activities" is redefined to include "paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying" but it excludes "grassroots lobbying" itself []  In turn, "paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying" is defined as:

(A) ...any paid attempt in support of lobbying contacts on behalf of a client to influence the general public or segments thereof to contact one or more covered legislative or executive branch officials (or Congress as a whole) to urge such officials (or Congress) to take specific action with respect to a matter described in section 3(8)(A), except that such term does not include any communications by an entity directed to its members, employees, officers, or shareholders.

`(B) PAID ATTEMPT TO INFLUENCE THE GENERAL PUBLIC OR SEGMENTS THEREOF- The term `paid attempt to influence the general public or segments thereof' does not include an attempt to influence directed at less than 500 members of the general public.

Contrary to what Seeing the Forrest, it does not sound to me like you have to be paid $25,000 or more to be covered and have to register.  There is a minimum dollar amount required for registration generally, but I don't think that the limit applies to those people who engage in "paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying" (I could be wrong).

BUT, unlike what Richard Viguerie says, the registration requirement would not apply to all or even most bloggers, but only to those who are paid to promote a specific viewpoint in their blogging by urging their readers to lobby elected officials.

I assume from Viguerie's protestations that he, or a lot of other right winger-bloggers are, in fact, paid to blog as they do, paid to encourage their audiences to contact their elected officials on specific issues of interest to those who pay Viguerie and his ilk.

If anyone has a different reading of the Senate bill, I'd be interested in hearing it.