2010 Lobbying Disclosure: Observations on Lobbyists’ Compliance with Disclosure Requirements

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has new report out on 2010 lobbying disclosure:

2010_Lobbying_Disclosure_(US_GAO_Apr_2011)

From the report (see page 2):

Lobbyists were generally able to provide documentation to support the amount of income and expenses reported; however, less documentation was provided to support other items in their disclosure reports. This finding is similar to GAO’s results from prior reviews. There are no specific requirements for lobbyists to create or maintain documentation related to disclosure reports they file under the LDA. For income and expenses, two key elements of the reports, GAO estimates that lobbyists could provide documentation for approximately 97 percent of the disclosure reports for the fourth quarter 2009 and the first three quarters of 2010. According to the documentation lobbyists provided for income and expenses, we estimate the amount disclosed was supported for 68 percent of disclosure reports. After GAO’s review, 21 lobbyists stated that they planned to amend their disclosure reports to make corrections on one or more data elements. As of March 2011, 12 of the 21 amended their disclosure reports.

For political contributions reports, GAO estimates that a minimum of 2 percent of reports failed to disclose political contributions that were documented in the Federal Election Commission database.

The majority of lobbyists who newly registered with the Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House of Representatives in the last quarter of 2009 and first three quarters of 2010 filed required disclosure reports for that period. GAO could identify corresponding reports on file for lobbying activity for 90 percent of registrants.

The majority of lobbyists felt that the terms associated with disclosure reporting were clear and understandable. For the few lobbyists who stated that disclosure reporting terminology remained a challenge, areas of potential inconsistency and confusion in applying the terms associated with disclosure reporting requirements have been highlighted. Some lobbyists reported a lack of clarity in determining lobbying activities versus non-lobbying activities. A few lobbyists stated that they misreported on their disclosure reports because they carried information from old reports to new reports without properly updating information.

Hat tip to DocuTicker.com.

Cross-posted on Law Library Blog.

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