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Capital Hill Watch Alert

To provide greater transparency in the legislative process (S.1) [Bennett Amendment]

Immediate Action Required!

There is a provision that would require grassroots organizations to report to the Senate on communication made to 500 or more people if that message encourages them to contact their elected representatives on a specific policy issue. The report would be made on a quarterly basis according to the Senate version of To Provide Greater Transparency in the Legislative Process (S.1). And this communication is defined by the measure as a type of “lobbying”— or more specifically “efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.”

This provision unfairly targets grassroots groups by imposing strict reporting requirements on any group conducting the smallest amount of lobbying and for noncompliance would impose strict fines and jail sentences.

Anyone paid by an organization that encourages more than 500 people to contact Congress on any matter or anyone who has called on a Congressional office more than two times urging a vote on legislation must register as a lobbyist under a section of the legislation.

Additionally, required to register and report expenditures as a “grassroots lobbying firm,” would be any paid individual who spends more than $25,000 in a three-month period on “paid efforts to stimulate grassroots lobbying.”

Such requirements would put small local organizations through significant and complex hurdles. Subjected to punitive civil penalties raised from $50,000 to $200,000 per infraction are the complex requirements of Section 220 of the measure. Furthermore, as much as up to ten years in prison could be included in the punishment.

This measure violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution in that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech and thus can be considered an illegal Constitutional Convention by the senate. Furthermore, the legislation would limit and stifle the dissemination of information regarding ongoing issues in Congress.

To resolve the above problems U.S. Senator Robert Bennett of Utah has offered an amendment to strike the grassroots lobbying provision in To Provide Greater Transparency in the Legislative Process (S.1) .

What Can You Do?

Telephone today and urge your senators to SUPPORT the Bennett amendment.

Contact Information:

Capitol Hill Switchboard Numbers: 202-224-3121 or 202-225-3121 (Those numbers will direct you to the Capitol Hill operator. Ask for your senator's office.)

To go to your senators' websites, to find out who your senators are... http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm  

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