by Steven Ertelt
March 21, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Every day, tens of thousands of Americans contact their members of Congress to support or oppose legislation making its way through the government. They may be employed as doctors, teachers and business owners. A new lobbying reform bill would change that and refer to them as lobbyists and place restrictions on what they can do.
In the wake of several ethics scandals, Congressional leaders are hurrying legislation through that would tighten up rules on lawmakers and lobbyists.
But two pro-life groups oppose the bill because they say it also restricts the rights of Americans to express their views on issues ranging from abortion to stem cell research.
"Under this legislation, any citizen who sends a communication to her elected representative is defined as having engaged in ‘grassroots lobbying,’" National Right to Life legislative director Douglas Johnson told LifeNews.com.
Johnson’s group was one of the first to raise a red flag about the bill, which he says will "regulate activity that merely motivates citizens to communicate with their elected representatives."
"Somebody needs to tell the lawmakers who are pushing this nonsense that a constituent is not a lobbyist," Johnson told LifeNews.com.
Lanier Swann, director of government relations for Concerned Women for America, agrees.
Swann says that grassroots restrictions placed in the Lobbying Transparency and Accountability Act (S. 2128) should be removed because the bill should only focus on the ethics abuses of full-time professionally employed lobbyists, not everyday citizens.
“Haphazardly including grassroots in lobby reform is not going to hurt deep-pocketed K-Street lobbyists," Swann explained. "It will merely muffle the voices of people who lobby for issues because they actually care about them."
The lobbying reform bill is currently stuck in the Senate as lawmakers voted against ending debate on the bill and taking a vote.
Swann said the bill is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment and, if it becomes law, it could be subjected to the another round of lawsuits like the campaign finance reform bill.
Pro-life groups opposed that measure, too, because it placed limits on grassroots groups like pro-life organizations and limited their ability to tell pro-life advocates about upcoming legislation or the views of lawmakers.
TAKE ACTION: Contact your senators and urge opposition to the grassroots lobbying section of S. 2128. You can find contact information at https://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm