Proposal Also Bars Lobbyists from Bundling Campaign Contributions
Washington, DC - Today, as part of his continuing efforts to reform the way Washington works and end the dysfunction Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet introduced a bill to end the outsized and undue influence of lobbyists on Members of Congress. The Lobbying and Campaign Finance Reform Act prohibits members of Congress and candidates from soliciting campaign contributions from lobbyists while Congress is in session and bars lobbyists from bundling large contributions.
"For too long, the culture in Washington, and members of Congress' time and attention, has been distorted toward lobbyists and special interests, rather than the people who elected them and they represent," Bennet said. "When Congress is in session, members should be focused on the work in front of them rather than asking lobbyists to fill their campaign coffers. We can take significant steps to returning the power to the American people by preventing members of Congress from chasing down tens of thousands of dollars from lobbyists while they should be doing their jobs."
The Lobbying and Campaign Finance Reform Act would:
• Prohibit solicitations of campaign contributions from lobbyists when Congress is in session - It prohibits Members of Congress, Senators, and candidates for the House of Representatives or the Senate from soliciting campaign contributions from lobbyists when their respective bodies are in session;
• Eliminate lobbyist bundling of large contributions - The bill prohibits registered lobbyists from bundling large contributions from individuals and obtaining credit with Senators and Members of Congress for this bundling;
• Reforms the lobbying registration process - The bill would require lobbyists to register if he or she makes two or more lobbying contacts for a client over a two-year period regardless of whether the lobbyist spends more than 20 percent of his or her time serving the particular client.
"Lobbyists gain influence far more through the contributions they bundle for Members than they do through the limited contributions they are allowed to make," said Fred Wertheimer, Founder and President of Democracy 21. "The Bennet bill would shut down the practice of lobbyists raising large amounts of campaign money for Members and gaining influence in return for their clients."
In addition to Democracy 21, the bill is supported by the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, League of Women Voters, Public Citizen, Sunlight Foundation, and U.S. PIRG.
Bennet's bill complements his work to reform the way Washington does business and to restore confidence to the voters. He has introduced bills to close the revolving door and ban Members of Congress from ever becoming lobbyists. Bennet also introduced a constitutional amendment with Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) that would restore authority to Congress, individual states, and the American people to regulate campaign finance. He is also a cosponsor of the DISCLOSE Act to crack down on "dark money" by requiring organizations that spend money to influence elections to disclose their spending as well as their major sources of funding in a timely manner.