On Wednesday, the Trump transition team announced its position on lobbyists in the administration. The team said that it would allow lobbyists to join the administration, as long as they de-registered their clients, but prohibits its officials from lobbying for five years after they leave the administration. Josh Rosenstein discusses these regulations further in CQ Roll Call’s article, “Trump Ban Could Drive More Lobbying Into Shadows.”
“If the Trump administration’s restrictions are aimed at congressional and state lobbying on matters unrelated to ex-officials’ executive branch policy issues, then the Trump proposal could run afoul of the First Amendment, said Joshua Ian Rosenstein, a lobbying and ethics lawyer with Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock. “Does the president have the ability to enforce this contract — to prohibit someone from lobbying Congress on unrelated matters? Does the government have the ability to do the same thing, infringe on people’s First Amendment rights to lobby on unrelated matters, with state and local governments? I don’t think they do,” Rosenstein said. He added that the shift could result in more lobbyists hiding their clients and their work from the public view of disclosure laws — a phenomenon that increased during the Obama presidency. The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, for example, looked at lobbyists who were registered in 2011 but were not registered in 2012. It found that more than 46 percent of those who had de-registered were still working for their same employers, “suggesting that many have simply avoided the reporting limits while still contributing to lobbying efforts,” the group said. “It may drive a number of individuals who have thus far been complying with the law into the realm of shadow advocacy, which causes a whole other set of ethics issues,” Rosenstein said.”
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