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Progressives call push to change Constitution "risky," Judge rules Donald Trump defrauded banks, insurers while building real estate empire; new report compares ways NY can get cleaner air, help disadvantaged communities.

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House Speaker McCarthy aims to pin a shutdown on White House border policies, President Biden joins a Detroit auto workers picket line and the Supreme Court again tells Alabama to redraw Congressional districts for Black voters.

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An Indigenous project in South Dakota seeks to protect tribal data sovereignty, advocates in North Carolina are pushing back against attacks on public schools, and Arkansas wants the hungriest to have access to more fruits and veggies.

Report: ND Lobbying Law Could Be Model for Congress

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Wednesday, July 24, 2019   

BISMARCK, N.D. - When members of Congress leave office, an industry lobbying role often is in their future. A new report says states such as North Dakota could provide a model to help the federal government slow this revolving door.

The consumer watchdog group Public Citizen applauded North Dakota and two other states for their strong restrictions on lobbying after lawmakers leave office. Report co-author Craig Holman, Public Citizen's government-affairs lobbyist, said the ethics measure passed by voters in November prohibits former officials from influencing public policy during a two-year "cooling off" period.

"And it not only has a longer cooling-off period," he said, "it also just prohibits - during that two-year cooling-off period - former elected officials from doing any kind of lobbying activity."

Holman said this kind of reform would close a loophole that allows former lawmakers to become lobbyists so long as they avoid directly lobbying to people in office. This year, Public Citizen found nearly two-thirds of former members of Congress have gone on to work for groups that seek to influence federal policies, including lobbying firms, consulting firms, trade groups and business groups.

Holman called the pipeline of former lawmakers into lobbying jobs "one of the most pernicious influence-peddling schemes available to wealthy special interests," adding that a lucrative job after leaving office has the potential to corrupt politicians.

"If he or she curries favor with that special employer, special interest," he said, "it's hard to make sure that the officeholder is acting on behalf of the public interest, rather than his or her own interest."

While the U.S. Senate has a two-year cooling-off period for for lobbying activities, it remains only one year for the House. Holman said the minimum should be at least two years, because that's the length of a legislative session and it takes at least that long for old staff contacts to turn over. Florida lawmakers recently passed a six-year cooling-off period - the longest to date.

The report is online at citizen.org.


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