Can Political Intelligence Be Regulated
Washington, DC March 29th, 2008 -- The many attempts by Reps. Baird and Slaughter to reign in the 50,000 or so lobbyists, lawyers and other DC Parasites in their gathering of Political Intelligence seems destined to failure. The idea has been pitched by them for more than three years and although there needs to be regulation. Having the Big Lobby/Law firms and ex Members of Congress disclose their clients, targets and revenue is just fantasy.
These Political Intelligence "Guns for Hire" includes ALL the former Presidents of the United States, even Reagan worked for the Japanese, and a large chunk of Congressmen past and present. Tom DeLay turned it into an Olympic Sport, and won multiple Gold Medals for working both sides of the fence, often at the same time. Most senior staffers tell everything they know to get plum consultancy jobs.
At the other end of the earnings spectrum are the legitimate investigative reporters, and political intelligence media, like ourselves. The proposed legislation says:
The Political Intelligence Disclosure Act is intended to provide information on an industry that has thus far operated largely in secret and without controls. The bill will amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to require that political intelligence firms and consultants register with the House and the Senate and disclose of their activities in the same manner that lobbyists currently do. These requirements include registering within 45 days of being employed, disclosing client and employer information, and identifying issues and legislation lobbied for. A political intelligence firm would be required to satisfy these disclosure requirements if it gathers legislative information on behalf of a client for use in analyzing securities or commodities markets or informing investment decisions.
The Baird-Slaughter bill also includes an exception for members of the media who gather political intelligence for press purposes. The bill includes language that states that “political intelligence contact” does not include a communication that is made by or to the media if the purpose of communication is gathering and disseminating news and information to the public.
So how do you distinguish between a company circulating a limited edition newsletter to a hand full of high priced clients, and a lobbyist circulating one to his. Does Bloomberg count as a media outlet, or a subscription service for information. Same with the likes of Lexis-Nexis, and even Stratfor. How big is the circulation before it is classed as to the public.
Every major company employs a "Government Affairs Consultant", VP, Director or whatever, who usually is a senior staffer who just jumped ship with a Rolodex full of contacts, and copies of everything that crossed his/her desk to be now used for the exclusive benefit of the new employer. The Defense Contractors are notorious at doing this.
Does giving an opinion to an audience, large or small, invited or paying need registration? Many legitimate investigative journalists are called upon to advise groups, company executives, trade organizations and even after-dinner speaking engagements to speak about trends, and their opinion on future legislative action on a particular subject. Over the years I have done many breafast briefings, luncheon Q and A's and Intelligence Briefings to small groups of high powered executives.
The goal of the sponsors is to prevent Insider Trading and financial knowledge being made available to Wall Street, and Hedge Funds for trading advantage. What about AIPAC and the other foreign intelligence operations closely monitoring, and strong arming Congressmen who might consider independent thinking. Most of the Political Intelligence divisions of the big law firms feed their overseas clients with Geopolitical Intelligence not usually available to the taxpayer and voters. Does using that advance intelligence become more damaging to the country if it causes a stock price to climb a few dollars, or if armies invade and slaughter hundreds, even thousands of civilians on a nod and a wink?
Hedge Funds, Investment Banks and Equity Funds have a Due Dilligence duty to keep up with trends, and future directions of government policies, and this is a legitimate aspect of political intelligence reporting, for MSNBC, CNN and the financial and intelligence media. I speak about political trends that effect entire industries, and warn about the future for those who will be targeted by an incoming Administration. Pharmaceutical, Healthcare and Energy should not be a surprised when Obama or Clinton takes them on in January 2009.
There needs to be regulation of lawyers and lobbyists running "Horses in the Race" and offering Political Intelligence on who has the best chance to win, to influence betting. Put simply that is what is going on with the big Law/Lobbying firms. This has to stop. It won't, and as long as there is no restrictions on the revolving door, then handing over all the government secrets for reward then expecting registration, and release of clients and revenue won't happen either.