Lobbying data includes convictions

By Kiernan Nicholls

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The Accountability Project database now includes 5 million new records with data from federal lobbying disclosure filings. We have collected all filings from the API operated by the Senate Office of Public Records and extracted the relevant data into five new datasets that can now be instantly searched alongside our existing collection:

The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, which was amended by the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, requires anybody participating in lobbying activities to submit quarterly filings disclosing the clients on whose behalf they lobby. This includes anyone who employs in-house lobbyists, which report themselves as both the registrant and client. These quarterly filings must disclose additional information, such as any affiliate organization contributing money used for lobbying or otherwise influencing lobbying activity. All foreign entities with more than a 20% ownership interest or providing any similar influence, such as financial support or planning, must also be disclosed.

The names and addresses of registrants, clients, affiliates and foreign entities can now be searched alongside hundreds of other datasets on the Accountability Project, including campaign contributions, government contracts and information about nonprofit organizations.

As of 2019, disclosures must also include any past criminal convictions of listed lobbyists. The new requirement came through the Justice Against Corruption on K Street Act, also known as the JACK Act, which was passed in response to the conviction of infamous lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who in June 2020 was convicted on new charges of violating the law that bears his name.

If a registrant employs any lobbyists who have been convicted of bribery, extortion, embezzlement or similar corruption charges, then that registrant must disclose the date and nature of the conviction on all subsequent quarterly filings. So far,  eight lobbyists have been disclosed on 179 filings. 

The Accountability Project will be updating these five datasets with each quarterly filing release.