“Unregistered Lobbyists Keep Business Humming”

Roll Call: “The tepid recovery and a dysfunctional Congress do bear blame [for the K Street business downturn], but a third, much overlooked factor exists: A lot of the work influencing government takes place in the shadows, outside of the view of public disclosures such as the LDA. And with a president who has further stigmatized registered lobbyists, K Streeters and some of their clients have made a practice of keeping their work just under the limits of the lobby laws. In some cases, lobbyists have remained on the job, even with the same firms, but have deregistered, keeping their clients and their work secret. One prominent example is Steve Ricchetti, who stayed with his Ricchetti Inc., although no longer as a registered lobbyist, before joining the Obama administration last year. Lobbyists, of course, can’t work for the executive branch — President Barack Obama banned them — unless granted a waiver. I have looked at this very carefully over the years and thought about it a lot,’ said James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. ‘I have come to the conclusion that the deregistrations that are going on, because people find out that they don’t really need to register or they’re trying to do a little bit of shadow advocacy  . . .  is the most important factor.'”

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