Lobbying Lawsuit Update

By April 23, 2008Briefly Legal

As noted in yesterday’s post here, the National Association of Manufacturers continues its litigation against the “affiliated organizations” portions of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007. The NAM issued a news release yesterday that quoted NAM President John Engler:

Denial of our request for an injunction does not address our basic challenge to the Constitutionality of this pernicious law which constitutes threatens the viability of business trade associations. It will require associations like the NAM to release the names of many members who contribute more than $5,000 for lobbying activities and who actively participate in the association’s lobbying activities, violating their right to privacy, association, speech and to petition the government for redress of grievances. The penalties for failure to disclose this information are severe. As businesses become aware of the serious implications of this law, many of them will curtail their membership or restrict their involvement in trade associations. The effect will be to compromise their First Amendment right to express their opinions in the legislative process, and also undermine trade associations which play a critical role in the development of public policy by government.

As the NAM continues the legal challenge, it has also decided to comply with the law in good faith; the decision has been made to file the disclosure forms with the member names. (We had originally planned to leave the names off, citing the pending litigation.) On balance, it makes sense not to complicate things at this point by inviting an enforcement action.

Because the law sets a disclosure threshold of $5,000 in lobbying expenditures, our larger member companies will comprise the list, that is, the sample is not representative of the membership.

Despite the filing, the objections remain: Section 207 Honest Leadership and Open Government Act infringes on our members’ First Amendment rights of speech, association and petitioning the government.

News coverage…

  • CQ Politics: “New Lobbying Report Deadline Causes Few Problems.” As usual, a thorough story from the reporters at CQ. We object to the NAM’s actions being called “theatrics,” however. We view good-faith efforts to comply with an unconstitutional law as a bit more serious that “theatrics.”
  • The Hill: “Manufacturers’ group to comply with lobbying law while case is under appeal.”
  • AP: “Trade group agrees to disclose name lobbying funders.”
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