Power Breakfast: Lobbying And Its Lack Of Transparency | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Power Breakfast: Lobbying And Its Lack Of Transparency

Play associated audio

Daniel Schuman is Policy Counsel at the aptly named Sunlight Foundation.

"We sort of wondered - looking at the entire info ecosystem, what's going on with lobbying?" he explains.

Shuman says those who make a living shedding light on the workings of government start with a straightforward principle: "It's useful to have a good understanding of what's going on."

When it comes to identifying, mapping and tracking influence in Washington, we really don't know what's going on. Schuman is director of the Advisory Committee on Transparency, which is holding a public forum this afternoon on the Hill with a panel of experts from the separate but co-dependent worlds of watch-dogging, journalism and, of course, K Street.

There are some practical reform targets to consider. According to Schuman, one of those is the so-called "20-percent lobbying rule."

"The 20% lobbying rule is basically, for me to have to become a federally regulated lobbyist, I have to make at least two contacts with a covered official and spend at least 20% of my time lobbying," Schuman says.

Lots of people who actively lobby Congress don't meet that definition; so lots of lobbying activity goes on outside the regulatory framework.

Schuman says watchdog and industry groups alike also think disclosure requirements should be increased. Is there any risk of becoming so thoroughly inundated with information and disclosures that the act of influence-peddling can simply 'hide in plain sight'?

"I wish we were somewhere near that end of the problem, Schuman says. "Unfortunately we're all the way at the other side of the problem. For example, you can track lobbying by firm, but you can't track it by individual. I cannot tell who they're meeting with, and it's very difficult to know the issues on which they're reporting with any level of detail."

For all the widespread distrust of Washington, there is only one way to know how justified it is.

WAMU 88.5

Art Beat With Lauren Landau, Oct. 1

Music from West Africa and photography from South East Asia come to the D.C. area.

NPR

From Kale To Pale Ale, A Love of Bitter May Be In Your Genes

Researchers have found a gene that affects how strongly you experience bitter flavors. And those who aren't as sensitive eat about 200 more servings of vegetables per year.
WAMU 88.5

Legal Limbo No More? Bill To Go Before D.C. Council Lays Out Ridesharing Rules

Cab drivers in D.C. have long complained that their app-based, ridesharing competition are unregulated. Now D.C. Council member Mary Cheh is introducing a bill that would address these concerns.

NPR

'Ello' Aims For A Return To Ad-Free Social Networking

Ello is the viral social network of the moment. Ad-free, invitation-only and with the option of anonymity, it's generating tons of chatter as the latest alternative to Facebook.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.