August 30: CoA demands lobbying compliance assurances; September 9: DOJ announces new compliance efforts.
On August 30, 2011, Cause of Action wrote to Keith Morgan, the Department of Justice official charged with enforcing the Lobbying Disclosure Act, stating “[w]hile significant progress has been made in implementing the provisions of the Act, we have serious concerns about the enforcement of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (“LDA”).”
CoA reported that the U.S.Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which is charged with enforcing the LDA, receives thousands of referrals of potential LDA violators from Congress, yet the vast majority of these referrals remain pending, with no resolution. As it stands,135 referrals are still pending from 2007, when House and Senate officials referred 241possible LDA violations to the U.S.Attorney’s Office for follow-up action.
DOJ has now received referrals regarding 2,680 lobbyists ororganizations that have not filed required reports on their campaign contributions or other political spending. However, not one of these non-filers has been sent a non-compliance letter by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Additionally, Senate officials have referred a cumulative total of 8,281 possible LDA violators to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
CoA demanded that DOJ provide all records pertaining to lobbyists or organizations that have not filed required reports on their campaign contributions or other political spending and requested records concerning DOJ’s enforcement efforts.
On September 9, 2011, the BNA reported “A Justice Department official said Sept. 9 that more aggressive action would be taken to achieve compliance with the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act[.]”
This official was DOJ’s Keith Morgan.
According to BNA, Morgan recently announced that his office will ramp up enforcement efforts and has made progress in an effort to create a database of potential LDA violators and to identify repeat offenders who appear to be ignoring the requirements of the law. Those identified are being contacted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and could be subject to fines.
BNA reported that the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section currently has “about 50 pending investigations involving possible campaign finance violations or other public corruption charges. . . . DOJ’s Washington headquarters reviews all the cases and has become much more involved in litigating the matters in court.” BNA referenced the DOJ’s current high-profile prosecution of John Edwards, the former Democratic senator and vice presidential candidate, on campaign finance charges.
Cause of Action has a dynamic and diverse legal staff whose wide range of experiences include congressional oversight and public interest litigation. CoA advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach. CoA employs public oversight as a tool to keep the federal government acting lawfully and to bring politicization and mismanagement to the public’s attention through:
• Freedom of Information Act Requests
• Ethics Complaints
• Internal Revenue Service Complaints
• Federal Election Commission Complaints
• Requests for Investigations