Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act Introduced in House - State and Federal Communications

November 28, 2018  •  

Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act Introduced in House

On November 16, a 289-page bill with various changes to federal lobbying and ethics laws was introduced in the House of Representatives. The identical bill was introduced in August in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Among the legislative changes included in H.R. 7140, the “Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act”, are an expanded definition of “lobbyist”. The new definition covers individuals employed for compensation making at least one lobbying contact or engaging in lobbying activities that do not include making lobbying contacts.

The bill creates the definition of “corporate lobbyist”, which are lobbyists compensated by for-profit entities and 501(c)(6) organizations like chambers of commerce, but does not include other 501(c) entities or political organizations. Reporting by lobbyists would be expanded to include disclosure of specific bills, policies, and governmental actions attempted to be influenced, meetings with public officials and documents provided to those officials.

The bill permanently bans all foreign lobbying by both foreign actors and American lobbyists. American lobbyists would be prohibited from accepting money from foreign governments, foreign individuals, and foreign companies to influence United States public policy.

Other changes include a life-time ban on lobbying by former presidents, vice presidents, cabinet secretaries, members of Congress, and federal judges. All other federal employees would be banned from lobbying their former office, department, agency, or Congress after leaving their position until the end of the Administration, but for no less than two years or at least six years for corporate lobbyists. The bill prohibits companies from immediately hiring senior government officials from an agency or office recently lobbied by that company.

The law similarly would prohibit large companies, measured by annual revenue or market capitalization, from hiring former senior government officials for four years after they leave the government. Additionally, lobbyists would be prohibited from making political contributions to candidates or members of Congress, giving gifts to the executive and legislative branch officials being lobbied, and from working for any contingency fee. The bill also contains changes to the federal rule-making process, expands the open record laws, creates ethics requirements for the judicial branch, including the Supreme Court, and creates an independent U.S. Office of Public Integrity for enforcement.

An additional part of the bill addresses conflict of interest laws for federal office holders and employees, including a ban on stock ownership, while in office or employed, by members of Congress, federal judges, and White House staff and senior agency officials. Also, the legislation includes the “Presidential Conflicts of Interest Act”, which requires sitting presidents and vice presidents to place conflicted assets into blind trusts to be sold.

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