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  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      House Committee on the Judiciary
    IntroducedOctober 30th, 2018

What is it?

This bill — the Justice Against Corruption on K Street (JACK) Act — would require lobbyists to disclose convictions for bribery, extortion, embezzlement, illegal kickbacks, tax evasion, fraud, conflicts of interest, making false statements, perjury, or money laundering.

Impact

Lobbyists; lobbying organizations; and the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.

Cost

The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would increase the House’s and Senate’s administrative costs by less than $500,000 annually.

More Information

In-DepthRep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) introduced this bipartisan legislation to amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act to require lobbyists to disclose past convictions for bribery, extortion, embezzlement, illegal kickbacks, tax evasion, or money laundering:

“This common-sense piece of legislation is another step forward in draining the Washington, D.C. swamp. There is no reason these individuals should be able to hide convictions for serious crimes like bribery, extortion, and embezzlement when lobbying Congress. These remissions foster corruption and the remedy is full transparency.”

Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA), sponsor of the Senate version of this bill, adds that this bill brings corrupt lobbyists into the sunlight and ensures that political and business leaders know who’s influencing public policy:

“This idea is simple: If you have been convicted of a felony like bribery, extortion, embezzlement or tax evasion, you should have to disclose that when registering to become a lobbyist. Corrupt lobbyists need to be brought into the sunlight, even if they’re wearing $6,000 suits. Political leaders and businesses need to know the backgrounds of those who are trying to influence public policy. These corrupt lobbyists are the worst kind of swamp creatures and they need a one-way ticket out of Washington.”

Some skeptics of this bill doubt its constitutionality. Lobbying is essentially the professionalization of activism, which is protected by the First Amendment, so regulating it is tricky. Interviewing Sen. Kennedy about this bill, MSNBC host Chuck Todd asked:

“Why are you confident this will be constitutional? The reason I say this is any American citizen can be a lobbyist, [though] there are certain rules about when you have to register as one. At one point do you think that the Supreme Court might say you’re actually getting in the way of a citizen’s right to lobby their government?”

This bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee with the support of one cosponsor. The Senate version of this bill passed by unanimous consent in August 2018.


Of NoteThis bill’s title refers to Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist who pled guilty to charges of fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to bribe members of Congress in 2006 and sentenced to three years in jail. Abramoff ran an operation called “Gimme Five,” in which he took on Native American tribes as clients, ostensibly to lobby for their interests in casino gambling, while privately describing his clients as “morons” and “troglodytes” as he and his associates grossly overbilled tribes, taking in $85 million in fees while at time covertly working against their clients’ interests.

The Abramoff scandal spurred the passage of new lobbying laws and ethics rules in the mid-2000s. Despite his criminal history, Abramoff was able to re-register as a federal lobbyist in 2017, and didn’t have to include his criminal history on his registration.

In 2017, there were 11,529 lobbyists in the U.S. representing businesses, trade associations, and other groups. Collectively, lobbyists spent $3.37 billion that year to influence the White House, Congress, and government agencies in 2017.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / P_Wei)

AKA

JACK Act

Official Title

To require disclosure by lobbyists of convictions for bribery, extortion, embezzlement, illegal kickbacks, tax evasion, fraud, conflicts of interest, making false statements, perjury, or money laundering.

    Not just lobbyists. All political figures and operators.
    Like (334)
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    Wrong solution to the problem. The real solution is for politicians not to accept bribes and other illegal forms of influence. If politicians aren't crooks then it won't matter if lobbyists are.
    Like (79)
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    Lobbyists influence important policymakers, including members of Congress and the White House. With this in mind, such individuals shouldn’t be able to hide convictions for serious crimes which may indicate corruption or a broader unsuitability to serve as advisors.
    Like (100)
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    DUH ! YAH !!!!!!!! NO CONVICTED FINANCIAL FELONS IN ANY LOBBYING POSITIONS PERIOD ! BTW CONGRESS PEOPLE, GET BUSY MAKING IN TO LAW ALL TRADITIONAL ETHICAL NORMS OF THE WHITE HOUSE !!! NOW !!!!!
    Like (71)
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    It’s called Full Disclosure.
    Like (37)
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    This should be a no brainer. They should disclose who they work for and any criminal conventions of any kind. Along with gratuity payoffs to a party and this should be part of all bills and made public. These bills they push effect our lives and we have a right to know and see what is stuffed inside. Just look at this election I bet every ballot bill has hidden bills that will cost us money or freedoms. I bet lobbyists are tied to them as well, I think they should be gone from the politician arena all together in my book.
    Like (33)
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    Lobbyists are an active force in our lawmaking. We need to be as careful choosing our lobbyists as we are with our congress.
    Like (26)
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    Um hello??? Absolutely! What kind of question...
    Like (24)
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    I would support this bill as long as "lobbyist" is defined accurately and fairly. I can easily see this being used to shut down relatively small activists if their message threatens the profits of large corporations.
    Like (17)
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    Duh!
    Like (16)
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    It’s hard to believe that this is even a question. Of course lobbyists should be required by law to disclose any criminal convictions. There are consequences to being a criminal and full disclosure of the risk that others face working with a convicted criminal is one of them.
    Like (16)
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    The very nature of a lobbyist is criminal their job is to bribe elected officials the bill should be to abolish lobbyists.
    Like (12)
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    How is this not already the law?
    Like (11)
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    Yes yes yes !!!! This is illegal and should be known
    Like (10)
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    Personally, I think we need to do away with lobbyists altogether.
    Like (9)
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    Yes, but if we just ban ALL lobbyists, altogether, we will not have to worry about their corrupt, unethical, immoral behavior and acts.
    Like (9)
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    If convicted of such crimes they should have to disclose it just like anyone with a criminal record.
    Like (9)
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    Yes. And I also think that convictions for bribery, extortion or theft should disqualify them from being lobbyists. Our public servants shouldn’t be bought and paid for by convicted criminals.
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    Yes! Keep everyone honest!
    Like (8)
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    Yes all members of politics should disclose if they have committed these crimes. We vote for these public representatives and when we vote we should get what we expect which means plays clean. If we know of these past convictions it would change minds about who we vote for.
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