Lobbying group’s next president expected to fight White House rules

The American League of Lobbyists is expected on Tuesday to name Monte Ward as president of the trade group that represents K Street.

Ward, the president of Advanced Capitol Consulting, would succeed Howard Marlowe of Marlowe & Co. if his nomination is approved in a vote by the League’s members on Tuesday. Marlowe has been the group’s president for two years.

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Ward is expected to continue the lobbying group’s efforts to fight Obama administration rules restricting activity by lobbyists, which he described as an infringement on the right to petition the government.

“One of things that Howard has done so well has been to defend our profession so well against the Obama administration,” Ward said in an interview with The Hill. “We need to defend our First Amendment rights to petition the government. I will continue to do that, because I think we should have those rights.”

The lobbyists’ group argues Obama rules restricting activity by lobbyists registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) has had the unintended effect of making the influence industry less transparent. For example, Obama banned lobbyists from serving on federal advisory boards, which provoked a lawsuit from lobbyists.

 “Some of the actions taken by the Obama administration have caused several people to deregister, which has a negative effect on the transparency process that all of us want,” Ward said.

The administration argues rules restricting lobbying activity are necessary to lessen the influence of money in politics.

The League has proposed its own ethics reforms to improve disclosure and transparency surrounding lobbying. That includes lowering the threshold for who has to register as a lobbyist.

“You have people out there who are lobbying but don’t technically fit underneath the law or they are trying to sidestep it. … We need to lower that threshold,” Ward said.

The group has proposed that in-house lobbyists be required to register if they spend at least 10 percent of their time on lobbying and contact at least one government official. Lobbyists at independent firms would have to register for contacting just one government official.

Under today’s rules, lobbyists don’t have to register unless they spend 20 percent or more of their time on lobbying and contact at least two government officials.

Ward first came to Washington in 1992 to work as an aide for several Republican House members. He left Capitol Hill in 1997 to lobby and founded his own one-man shop in 2003.

As the group’s president, Ward said he wants to expand the group’s membership and continue promoting ethical conduct for K Street.

“When they asked me to serve in leadership, I said sure, because I thought that it would be a good opportunity to give back to my profession,” Ward said.