November 20, 2016 In The News, News

Swamp loophole: Isn’t a lobbyist by any other name still a lobbyist?

By: Lesley Clark, McClatchy, November 18, 2016

Donald Trump’s first act to clean up Washington could miss a big loophole.

He pledges to prevent “lobbyists” from serving in his administration. He also says he will ban ex-Trump administration officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his government, a move tougher than any past president has tried.

But if he only focuses on the narrow definition of “lobbyist,” he’ll overlook the so-called “shadow lobbyists” who pitch themselves instead as “consultants” or “strategic advisers.” Declining to register as lobbyists, they make it difficult for the public to ascertain who is seeking to influence members of Congress and federal agencies.

“Lobbying is such a giant mainstay of Washington that it’s hard to believe that just a ‘thou shall not lobby’ fiat is going to be effective,” said Anne Weismann, executive director of the anti-corruption group Campaign for Accountability. “When he says banning lobbyists, they’ll say they’re consultants. But a lobbyist by any other name is still a lobbyist.”

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