A GAO report has found that lobbyists are still sometimes unclear about the need to disclose certain previously held covered positions, such as paid congressional internships or certain executive agency positions.
The Lobbying Disclosure Act requires lobbyists to regularly file reports on their activities, which must be available for public review. Lobbyists are required to disclose certain previously held covered positions, such as certain executive agency and congressional staff posts. GAO reviewed a sample of 98 of the 45,818 quarterly reports filed in the last half of 2016 and first half of 2017 with expenses of $5,000 or more.
GAO estimates that 15 percent of all LD-2 reports may not have properly disclosed previously held covered positions. On the other hand, over the past several years of reporting on lobbying disclosure, GAO found that most lobbyists in the sample rated the terms associated with LD-2 reporting as “very easy” or “somewhat easy” to understand.
It found that in 2017 most lobbyists provided documentation for key elements of their disclosure reports to demonstrate compliance with the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, as amended. Eighty-seven percent of lobbyists filed reports as required for the quarter in which they first registered, and 99 percent of all lobbyists who filed (up from 83 percent in 2016) could provide documentation for income and expenses. It also found that 93 percent filed year-end 2016 LD-203 reports as required.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia (USAO) stated it has sufficient resources and authority to enforce compliance with the LDA. USAO continued its efforts to bring lobbyists into compliance by reminding them to file reports or by applying civil penalties.