Lobbying regulation - chronology 2020-2029

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Twenty-pound-notes.jpg This article is part of the Lobbying Portal, a sunlight project from Spinwatch.

This page lists the history of debates on Lobbying regulation, in Scotland, the UK, the EU and the US.

See also:

2020 - 2029

2020

8 January 2020 - Rod Rosenstein joins law and lobbying firm

US: From The Hill:

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was named a partner at law and lobbying firm King & Spalding. Rosenstein will work in the firm’s special matters and government investigations group, which represents corporate, institutional and individual clients in sensitive legal challenges, the firm announced on Wednesday. Rosenstein oversaw former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation and announced his resignation in April.[1]

22 January 2020 - Tech giants led by Amazon, Facebook and Google spent nearly half a billion on lobbying over the last decade, new data show

US: New data shows the tech giants spending record sums of money on lobbying efforts in Washington D.C. The Washington post reports:

Facebook, for example, spent almost $81 million in the nation’s capital between 2010 and 2019, according to new lobbying records as well as historical data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. That includes nearly $17 million last year, its highest amount ever, as it sought to assuage federal regulators who were furious at Facebook’s failures to protect users’ data, crack down on dangerous content and stop the spread of viral misinformation ahead of the 2020 presidential election. The company declined comment for this story.

Apple, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Uber, which were included in the analysis, also declined comment.

Amazon said it is “focused on ensuring we are advocating on issues that are important to our customers, our employees and policymakers,” according to spokeswoman Jill Kerr. It also spent roughly $17 million on lobbying last year, setting a new record for the e-commerce giant.[2]

Full article here.

23 January 2020 - Trump weakened environmental laws after BP lobbying

US: The Guardian reports:

BP has successfully lobbied US policymakers to weaken a landmark environmental law, clearing the way for major infrastructure projects to bypass checks.

US government documents show BP America lobbied in favour of Donald Trump’s decision to dilute legislation, which could make it easier for new projects, such as oil pipelines and power plants, to move forward with far less federal review of their impact on the environment.

Many green groups fear the changes to the 50-year-old National Environmental Policy Act (Nepa) will increase greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the climate crisis.

The changes, unveiled by Trump this month, would narrow the list of projects that require an environmental impact assessment and in some cases eliminate the need for federal agencies to consider the cumulative effects of projects, including the impact on the climate crisis.[3]

Full article here.

13 February 2020 - Mapped: Boris Johnson's Cabinet and the Tufton Street Lobbying Network

UK: DeSmog UK have mapped out in detail the links between Boris Johnson's Cabinet and the Tufton Street Lobbying Network. Tufton Street is a road in Westminster, London, that is known as a centre for Brexit-related eurosceptic and right-wing aligned think-tanks. These groups are primarily based in 55, but also in 57, Tufton Street.[4]

The full study by DeSmog Uk can be viewed here.

25 February 2020 - Watchdog ‘disappointed’ with review of State’s lobbying Act

Ireland: The Irish Times reports:

Ireland’s lobbying watchdog has criticised the Government for failing to give it extra powers to police the “revolving door” between the private and public sectors.

Sherry Perrault, who is in charge of ethics and lobbying at the Standards in Public Office commission (Sipo), said it was “disappointed none of its recommendations were adopted” during a review of the State’s lobbying Act.

She told The Irish Times that despite its requests the law be strengthened, “the commission doesn’t have all the tools it could have to ensure the effective operation of the legislation”.

Sipo made a total of 22 separate recommendations during the review of the lobbying laws, and asked for stronger legislative powers. Among these were concerns about how tightly existing obligations were being adhered to, and its own lack of powers to investigate or sanction some transgressions.

However, the Government’s review, published on Tuesday, limited its proposals for reform to “more education and guidance”. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which ran the review, found there was no convincing case for updating lobbying laws introduced in 2014.[5]

Full article here.

The Second Statutory Review of the Regulation of Lobbying Act 2015 can be viewed here.

25 February 2020 - Richard Grenell once touted his foreign clients. Now he's the top US intelligence official

US: CNN reports on Richard Grenell‘s consultancy work for foreign governments before joining the Trump administraion:

Years before becoming the nation's top intelligence official, Richard Grenell touted his consulting work for clients in Iran, China and other countries, which included projects that could violate foreign lobbying laws or jeopardize his security clearance.

Last week, President Donald Trump appointed Grenell as the acting director of national intelligence, elevating him to an influential position that oversees all US intelligence agencies, even though he has no experience working in the intelligence community.

An archived version of Grenell's personal website says, "Grenell has worked with clients based in the U.S. as well as Iran, Kazakhstan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, China, Australia, Timor-Leste, and throughout Europe." The site was apparently taken down in 2018.

Two years before Grenell joined the Trump administration in 2018 to become the US ambassador to Germany, his company earned more than $100,000 from a foundation tied to the far-right Hungarian government, according to federal tax records. And Grenell also once published a series of columns favorable toward a Moldovan oligarch who is now a blacklisted fugitive facing allegations of massive corruption.[6]

Full article here.

26 February 2020 - Top Senate Democrat asks Justice Department to investigate Richard Grenell's consulting work

US: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer contacted the assistant attorney general for national security, John Demers, asking his office to "immediately investigate" reports of Grenell's work in support of the Hungarian government and a Moldovan politician. Failure to disclose previous work as a foreign agent is a potential violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires those who lobby in the U.S. on behalf of foreign entities to disclose their efforts. According to CBS a search of FARA filings shows Grenell did not register.[7]

3 March 2020 - Exclusive: Tory MP Paul Bristow Quits Private Lobbying Firm And Hands Directorship To...His Own Wife

UK: Conservative MP Paul Bristow has been accused by transparency campaigners of a conflict of interest over his decision to hand his PR business over to his wife. Bristow set up PB Consulting in 2010 with the company specialising in helping private tech and healthcare companies influence law-makers. PB Consulting is currently engaged in lobbying three separate all party parliamentary groups (APPGs) of MPs, which are exploring issues around obesity, women’s health and vascular disease. Bristow was elected in December 2019 and decided to transfer the company to his wife Sara Petela on January 9 2020.

Tamasin Cave, of the transparency campaign group Spinwatch said: “Paul Bristow says he’s ditched his interest in his lobbying firm but [could] still benefit through his wife’s involvement, which seems like a sleight of hand. His case highlights the problem in this country: there is no public scrutiny of who is influencing whom and about what.”[8]

6 March 2020 - ExxonMobil 'tried to get European Green Deal watered down'

EU: The Guardian reports:

The US oil firm ExxonMobil met key European commission officials in an attempt to water down the European Green Deal in the weeks before it was agreed, according to a climate lobbying watchdog.

Documents unearthed by InfluenceMap revealed that Exxon lobbyists met Brussels officials in November to urge the EU to extend its carbon-pricing scheme to “stationary” sources, such as power plants, to include tailpipe emissions from vehicles using petrol or diesel.

Green groups believe this would be the least effective way to disincentive fossil fuel vehicles, and would rather allow countries to set their own emissions standards and targets for road emissions. Sign up to the Green Light email to get the planet's most important stories Read more

The move appears to be an attempt to stall the rollout of electric vehicles by keeping a lid on the cost of driving a traditional combustion engine vehicle running on fossil fuels. The European commission stopped short of proposals to phase out combustion engine vehicles and has plans to consult on whether to include vehicles in its carbon-pricing scheme.

Edward Collins, a director at InfluenceMap, said the document “represents yet another evidence piece” of ExxonMobil’s long-term strategy of delaying climate action by focusing on “long-term technical solutions” to try to avert “decisive regulatory action” that is urgently required to tackle the climate crisis.

A Guardian investigation last year found that Exxon has spent €37.2m (£32.4m) lobbying the EU since 2010, more than any other major oil company, according to the EU’s transparency register. It revealed that Shell spent €36.5m and BP spent €18.1m lobbying Brussels officials to shape EU climate policy.[9]

Full article here.

2 April 2020 - Tracking Corporate Climate Lobbying in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

Global: The Ecologist reports:

InfluenceMap, which tracks and measures corporate influence over climate policy, focused on recent corporate lobbying for both financial interventions and relating to climate or energy regulations.

“The oil and gas sector appears to be the most active globally in the above two lobbying areas, demanding both financial support and deregulation in response to the COVID-19 crisis,” the report states.

In the U.S., the top oil and gas producer in the world, this activity has been particularly pronounced. While the oil and gas sector is struggling amid plummeting prices and demand, the struggle is due to factors far beyond the pandemic, and mostly of the industry’s own making.

Many shale companies had amassed large debts that allowed them to rapidly spend and expand production, for example. And the oil and gas giant ExxonMobil’s stock hit a 10-year low in late January, and a 15-year low by March 5, before the pandemic reached a crisis point in the U.S.

Nevertheless, the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers have looked to use the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to shore up the petroleum producers.[10]

The full InfluenceMap briefing can be downloaded here.

7 April 2020 - Coronavirus pandemic breeds Washington lobbying boom

US: The Associated Press reports on the dramatic rise of the lobbying industry during the COVID-19 crisis:

An Associated Press analysis of federal lobbying filings shows the number of companies and organizations hiring lobbyists shot up dramatically across the months of February, March and early April. Of the more than 700 registrations filed since the beginning of the year, at least 70 specifically mention the new virus, COVID-19 or a global health crisis. Dozens of other lobbyists and firms who were previously retained list the virus or the stimulus legislation in recent quarterly lobbying reports.

And there has also been a stark increase in medical groups, drug makers and others connected to the medical industry who have hired lobbyists, even if the virus was not specifically given as a reason in the disclosures.

The surge in lobbying provided another potent example of the power and sway Washington’s permanent influence industry can hold during times of crisis.[11]

Full article here.

Notes