Court Rejects Challenge |to Lobbying Disclosures

     (CN) – The D.C. Circuit on Tuesday rejected a challenge to a federal law requiring trade associations to disclose the identities of member organizations that contribute $5,000 or more toward lobbying efforts.

     The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the nation’s largest industrial trade association, took issue with stricter disclosure requirements passed in 2007.
     The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act expanded earlier disclosure requirements that allowed organizations to help pay for lobbyists under the umbrella of a coalition or trade association. Under the old rules, the association, not the individual member, had to disclose its lobbying activities.
     But that changed with the 2007 Act. NAM, which employs about 35 lobbyists, must now identify which members contributed to lobbying efforts.
     The association argued that this rule violates the First Amendment and will chill its members from taking part in public policy initiatives.
     The federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., upheld a lower court’s dismissal of the challenge, citing the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in United States v. Harriss.
     “More than fifty years ago, the Supreme Court held that the public disclosure of ‘who is being hired, who is putting up the money, and how much’ they are spending to influence legislation is ‘a vital national interest,'” Judge Garland wrote.
     “Because nothing has transpired in the last half century to suggest that the national interest in public disclosure of lobbying information is any less vital than it was when the Supreme Court first considered the issue, we reject [the plaintiff’s] challenge.”

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