On behalf of the millions of hard-working taxpayers represented by our organizations, I am writing to encourage you to co-sponsor and support important bipartisan legislation, H. Res. 960, which would close a gaping loophole in U.S. House Rules that exempts lobbyists for state and local government agencies from the gift limits that private-sector and not-for-profit lobbyists must obey. The legislation was introduced on July 27 by U.S. Reps. Jeff Flake (6th Dist. - Ariz.), Mike Pence (6th Dist. - Ind.), Ed Case (2nd Dist - Hi.) and Sue Myrick (9th Dist. - NC.).
As you know, currently there is a $50 limit on gifts that lobbyists can give to Members of Congress and staffers - that is, unless the lobbyist represents a state or local government entity. In those situations, there is absolutely no monetary limit on the gifts that can be accepted.
This curious exemption allows lobbyists for entities like public universities and city governments to ignore the typical gift limits and attempt to unfairly influence Members of Congress and their staff with free luxury skybox tickets to sold-out sporting events like the Final Four or the Rose Bowl, or free front-row tickets to the most popular concerts. Jack Abramoff even tried to exploit this loophole when he flew several Congressional staffers to the Super Bowl in Florida a few years ago.
While this kind of unlimited gift-giving is considered completely unethical or even illegal if it is done by lobbyists representing private companies or not-for-profit groups like ours, for some reason it is considered perfectly fine when it is done by taxpayer-funded government lobbyists, who are usually lobbying for additional federal funding at the expense of the taxpayer.
H. Res. 960 largely closes this loophole, and finally treats state and local government lobbyists like every other citizen. In addition to restoring fairness to lobbying rules, this resolution also helps curb government spending on all levels. Under the current system, the taxpayer ends up paying for both the lavish gifts and the pork-barrel earmarks the government lobbyists are usually pushing for.
For these reasons, we strongly encourage you to co-sponsor and support H. Res. 960, and to help level the playing field for taxpayers. To co-sponsor H. Res. 960, please contact Lydia Morgan in Congressman Flake's office at (202) 225-2635. Thank you for your consideration.
Americans for Prosperity
National Taxpayers Union
|Grover Glenn Norquist|
Americans for Tax Reform
American Shareholders Association
Citizens Against Government Waste
President and CEO
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council
|J. William Lauderback|
Executive Vice President
American Conservative Union
The Free Enterprise Fund
Director of Government Reform