This Hill article addresses compliance with lobbyist registration and reporting requirements.
Provisions in the 2007 lobbying law should result in better enforcement, the experts agreed. In addition to the more severe penalties and the GAO audits, the House clerk and Senate secretary are required to disclose how many times they refer a noncompliant lobbying entity to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, which also must disclose how many charges it files.
In the past, the clerks sent few referrals to prosecutors, who rarely acted on them, Holman and Gross said. Now, the public will know whether these three bodies are following through and that could create pressure on them to act, Gross said.
“The goal of all enforcement is to achieve voluntary compliance with the law,” Wertheimer said. “That’s really the only way these laws work.”
Ideal enforcement, Gross maintained, would only be possible if there were a regulatory agency charged with overseeing the laws; he suggested the Federal Election Commission as a model.
The House and Senate clerks do not have such powers, according a joint guide to lobbying laws published on their websites. Neither office would respond to questions on the record for this article.