McCain Flip-Flops On Lobbying Reform, Caves To Pressure From Religious Right


In Dec. 2005, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced that he was introducing The Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act of 2005. Section 105 of his bill called for “disclosure of grassroots activities by paid lobbyists.” McCain urged the necessity of this provision, stating:

It requires greater disclosure of the activities of lobbyists, including for the first time, grassroots lobbying firms. … Lobbyists distorted the truth, not only with false messages, but also with fake messengers. I hope by having, for the first time, disclosure of grassroots activities and the financial interests behind misleading front groups, that such a fraud on Members and voters can be avoided.

Conservative non-profit groups sprung into action, assembling a coalition to “help bring down” the McCain provision. While grassroots groups on both sides of the political spectrum oppose the proposal, “social conservative leaders such as Dr. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, who broadcasts a radio program to hundreds of thousands of evangelical Christians, have been its most vehement critics.” McCain has been aggressively recruiting Dobson’s support.

After months of pushing back against the influence-peddling operations of grassroots lobbyists, McCain has decided to give in. According to The Hill:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has told conservative activists that he will vote to strip a key provision on grassroots lobbying from the reform package he previously supported. … Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the conservative American Center for Law and Justice, told The Hill that he had received confirmation from McCain’s staff yesterday that he would oppose the disclosure proposal.

McCain has engaged in a pattern of flip-flopping on lobbying reform. Prior to his most recent reversal, ThinkProgress reported McCain has been soliciting contributions from K Street lobbying firms while talking tough against lobbyists, and he has been trying to scuttle the lobbying reform effort by adding a “poison pill” to the bill.