GAO Issues Report On Lobbyists’ Compliance With Disclosure Requirements For 2009

The United States General Accountability Office (“GAO”) just issued its latest report on compliance with the Lobbying Disclosure Act entitled, 2009 Lobbying Disclosure: Observations on Lobbyists’ Compliance with Disclosure Requirements. Listed below are some of the key findings:

For income and expenses, two key elements of the reports, GAO estimates that lobbyists could provide written documentation for approximately 89 percent of the disclosure reports. After GAO’s review, 15 lobbyists stated that they planned to amend their disclosure reports to make corrections on one or more data elements. As of March 18, 2010, 7 of the 15 amended their disclosure reports to make these corrections.

For political contribution reports, GAO estimates that 82 percent of the reports listing contributions could be supported by Federal Elections Commission (FEC) data or documentation provided by lobbyists. Among reports with no contributions listed, an estimated minimum of 3 percent of reports omitted one or more contributions that should have been reported. All of the lobbyists said that they did not report the information listed in the FEC database because of an oversight and plan to amend their reports.

The majority of lobbyists who newly registered with the Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House of Representatives in the last quarter of 2008 and first three quarters of 2009 filed required disclosure reports for the period. GAO could not identify corresponding reports on file for lobbying activity for about 11 percent of the registrants, likely because either reports were not filed or the reports that were filed contained information, such as client names, that did not match the registrations. The Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House routinely review the completeness of registrations and reports and follow up with lobbyists.

The report also lists the aggregate number of noncompliance referrals to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia from the Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate.  The referral data is categorized by year and type of report such as LD-2, quarterly report of lobbying expenses and activities, and LD-203, semiannual disclosure or political and other contributions by lobbyists and organizations employing lobbyists.

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