Senate Rejects Grassroots Lobbying Disclosure

CENTER for COMPETITIVE POLITICS

PRESS RELEASE: January 19, 2007

Media Contacts:   Bradley A. Smith (614) 236-6317 or (540) 287-8954
Stephen M. Hoersting (703) 682-9359

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

“Senate Rejects Grassroots Lobbying Disclosure”

Washington, D.C. – “The basic right to discuss political issues without government interference is more secure today than it was yesterday, thanks to the Senate’s decision to reject grassroots lobbying disclosure,” said Bradley A. Smith, former Federal Election Commission Chairman and Chairman to the Center for Competitive Politics (“CCP”), describing yesterday’s 55-43-2 Senate vote to remove controversial grassroots lobbying disclosure provisions from the larger ethics and lobbying reform bill.  Following the removal of the grassroots lobbying disclosure provisions, the bill, S.1, passed by a vote of 96-2.

“Grassroots lobbying” is the practice of contacting citizens and urging them to contact their legislators.  It is distinguishable from traditional lobbying because it involves no contact between lobbyists and legislators.

“We are pleased that some Senators seemed to rely on our policy primers in making a decision about the issue,” said CCP Executive Director Stephen M. Hoersting. “Lobbying disclosure requirements are supposed to combat government corruption.  But in ‘grassroots lobbying’ there is no possibility of corruption.  It is simply citizens talking to other citizens,” said Hoersting.  “The danger in disclosures of this kind is that skilled consultants would be driven away from representing unpopular causes.”

Proponents of disclosure have described grassroots lobbying as “fake grassroots” or “Astroturf,” but CCP Associate Director Paul M. Sherman disagrees.  “There’s nothing ‘fake’ about asking people to get involved in the political process,” said Sherman.  “Regardless of who alerts citizens to a political issue, the choice to contact their legislator ultimately rests with the individual.  If they do, that’s ‘real’ grassroots by any measure.”

The Center for Competitive Politics is a nonprofit organization co-founded by Smith and Hoersting, a campaign finance attorney and former General Counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. CCP’s mission, through legal briefs, studies, historical and constitutional analyses, and media communication, is to educate the public on the actual effects of money in politics, and the results of a more free and competitive electoral process.

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