If you’re the sort of person who spends their evenings poring over research and financial filings pertaining to lobbying activities, you may have noticed that in recent years, “both spending on lobbying and the number of active lobbyists has declined.” Good news, right? Influence peddling is on the wane! Hooray for good government!
Alas, this is not the case, for if you click on that link above, you’ll be taken to the executive summary of the recent report from the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), which — while noting that “the lackluster economy” and “a gridlocked Congress” play a role in the decline — makes the case that these seeming declines are actually attributable to rule changes that essentially allow lobbyists to hide in plain sight as “not-lobbyists.”
“The decline in lobbying activity is not a decline at all,” states the report, “but rather the side effect of lobbyists and lobbying firms taking advantage of a feature of the law which allows them to continue influencing policy from ‘behind the scenes.’”