Grassroots and astroturf lobbying legislation

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Grassroots and astroturf lobbying refers to the practice of motivating citizens to contact their members of Congress regarding their sentiments on legislation and issues.

For a greater description of astroturf lobbying, see the Sourcewatch page.

Contents

Background

The issue of grassroots and astroturf lobbying legislation revolves around free speech.

Arguments against disclosure

On May 10th 2007, Caroline Fredrickson of the ACLU and Douglas Johnson NRLC summarized the argument against grassroots lobbying disclosure. Their arguments are that:

  • Grassroots/astroturf lobbying is not lobbying, but "representative democracy in action";
  • The First Amendment protects the speech of both private citizens as well as corporate entities;
  • The $100,000 threshold too low, and would effect not only groups, but individuals, in relatively small campaigns.[1]

Arguments for disclosure

Among those groups in favor of grassroots lobbying disclosure is OMB Watch. Their arguments are that:

  • disclosure would not effect citizens, but merely "grassroots lobbying firms" (and only the largest firms at that);
  • charities, unions and others have been disclosing financial information about their political participation and it has not stifled them; and,
  • twenty-three states already have some sort grassroots lobbying disclosure.[2]

110th Congress

House

On May 1, 2007, Reps. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) and Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) introduced (H.R.2093), which would "amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to provide for additional reporting by lobbying firms." The bill would require organizations that spend $100,000 or more per quarter, in attempts to get the public to contact their representatives, to register and disclose their financial information to the government.[3]


Senate

Section 220 of the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007 (S.1.) contained grassroots/astroturf lobbying disclosure provisions for organizations that spend more than $25,000 quarterly. This provision was struck from the bill via Senate Amendment 20, sponsored by Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah).



Articles and Resources

See also

References

  1. Caroline Fredrickson and Douglas Johnson, "Citizens Don’t Need ‘Protection’ From Lobbying," Roll Call, May 10, 2007.
  2. Gary D. Bass, "OMB Watch Urges House to Support Disclosure of Grassroots Lobbying Expenditures," OMB Watch, May 8, 2007.
  3. Caroline Fredrickson and Douglas Johnson, "Citizens Don’t Need ‘Protection’ From Lobbying," Roll Call, May 10, 2007.

External resources

External articles

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