GAO: Lobbyist disclosure compliance 'similar' compared to prior years

Individuals acting as lobbyists were fairly similar in statistics when it came to reporting accurately on LD-2s. Roughly 68 percent of “individuals acting as lobbyists” could provide full supporting documents for their reports, with 17 percent providing some documentation and 15 percent providing none.

GAO’s results also indicate fairly similar reporting compliance regardless of which chamber of Congress firms or individuals choose to lobby in.

Slightly more lobbyists could provide supporting documents for their reports when lobbying the House than the Senate. Approximately 81 percent could provide full documentations for lobbying the House, versus 78 percent who lobbied the Senate.

A very small number of political contributions that should have been reported were not disclosed on LD-203 reports, the office found. Only 86 percent of lobbyists and firms filed these forms in conjunction with their LD-2 reports, and a minuscule 4 percent of those reports “omitted one or more reportable political contributions.”

These LD-203 forms were checked against existing Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings.

The office’s report also showed enforcement improving. The U.S. Attorney’s office hired someone to work solely on lobbying efforts, the report states.

The attorney’s office referred 561 cases of noncompliance in 2009 or 2010. Out of those, 43 percent, or 243, are pending action, and 56 percent, or 312, are now compliant with requirements.

The attorney’s office also finalized a $45,000 settlement in November, the first since HLOGA became law. Before 2008, the office had made settlements with three offices “totaling about $47,000,” the report states.

While almost all lobbying firms and lobbyists interviewed said the requirements for disclosure were “easy” or “somewhat easy” to comply with, a few lobbyists expressed difficulties filing the reports.

These individuals cited confusion over whether interning for Congress should be disclosed on the lobbying form as previous experience. The lobbyists also told the agency they did not keep track of lobbying contacts with covered officials such as members of Congress or members of the executive branch.