Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has cooked up with Public Citizenâ€™s Joan Claybrook a â€œlobbying reformâ€ that actually protects rich special interests and activists millionaires while clamping new shackles on citizensâ€™ First Amendment rights to petition Congress and speak their minds.
Pelosi tried earlier this year to move H.R. 4682, the â€œHonest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2006,â€ which is now cited by Public Citizenâ€™s Web site as the vehicle it is helping the incoming speaker to craft for the new Congress. The proposal Claybrook is helping craft for introduction early in 2007 is expected to be essentially the same bill Pelosi put forth this year.
That is bad news for the First Amendment and for preserving the kind of healthy, open debate that is essential to holding politicians, bureaucrats and special interests to account for their conduct of the public business.
The key provision of the 2006 bill was its redefinition of grassroots lobbying to include small citizens groups whose messages about Congress and public policy issues are directed toward the general public, according to attorneys for the Free Speech Coalition.
All informational and educational materials produced by such groups would have to be registered and reported on a quarterly basis. Failure to report would result in severe civil penalties (likely followed soon by criminal penalties as well).
Sounds bad to me. Read the whole thing.