Lobbying "Reform"

Via Instapundit, Mark Tapscott reports that Nancy Pelosi is cooking up a lobbying "reform" bill that  will be to lobbying what McCain-Feingold was to elections:  A figleaf labelled "reform" behind which politicians can hide while in effect making it more difficult for ordinary citizens to exercise their free speech.

Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has cooked up with Public
Citizen's Joan Claybrook a "lobbying reform" that actually protects
rich special interests and activists millionaires while clamping new
shackles on citizens' First Amendment rights to petition Congress and
speak their minds....

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).

In addition, the
2006 bill created a new statutory category of First Amendment activity
to be regulated by Congress. Known as "grassroots lobbying firms,"
these groups would be required to register with Congress and be subject
to penalties whenever they are paid $50,000 or more to communicate with
the general public during any three-month period.

In other words,
for the first time in American history, potentially millions of
concerned citizens involved in grassroots lobbying and representing
viewpoints from across the entire political spectrum would have to
register with Congress in order to exercise their First Amendment
rights.

There is even more bad news here, though, because the
Pelosi-Claybrook proposal includes loopholes big enough to protect Big
Labor, Big Corporations and Big Nonprofits, as well as guys with Big
Wallets like George Soros. Big Government, you see, always takes care
of its big friends.

The Pelosi-Claybrook proposal builds on the
restrictions on free speech created by campaign finance reform measures
like McCain-Feingold that bar criticism of congressional incumbents for
30 days prior to a primary and 60 days before a general election.

It should be no surprise that Common Cause, whose main cause is to champion unlimited government power, is behind both bills.