The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates passed a resolution on Tuesday, Aug. 9, urging Congress to amend and strengthen federal lobbying rules. HLS Professor Charles Fried co-chaired the bi-partisan ABA Administrative Law Section task force, which proposed the recommendations in its January 2011 report.

The resolution urges that Congress amend the Lobby Disclosure Act (LDA) to narrow the lobbying reporting threshold from 20 percent of one’s professional work to a “reasonable,” but unspecified percentage. The resolution also proposes a two-year window during which lobbyists could not lobby members for whom they have raised money or raise money for members they have lobbied in the past—one of Fried’s major contributions. In a separate statement in the Report to the House of Delegates Fried wrote:

“The lobbying fraternity explains in defense of their profession that like advocates before trial, appellate, and administrative tribunals they provide advice, a point of view, information and analysis. They are, like their courtroom colleagues, public policy advocates.The thirteenth chime of the clock in this analysis, however, is money.  It is not that public policy advocates are paid for their work—so are courtroom advocates.  But rather that lobbyists are not only conduits of information, analysis and advice—they are also conduits of money.  The legal profession and the profession of public policy advocate—including paid advocate—is honorable and necessary. But to be blunt,  the function of bagman is not.  The lawyers who seek—and deserve—the accolade of  being called  public policy advocates should conduct themselves as do their colleagues who advocate before the federal courts.”

Finally, the report recommends that lobbying enforcement be transferred to a separate regulatory body that can be given appropriate administrative powers to implement rulemaking, investigate, and dispense of civil or administrative penalties.

As a result of the ABA’s passing of the resolution, the group may now advocate for Congressional adoption of the proposed reforms. The report will also be published in an upcoming copy of the ABA’s Law Journal.

The task force was created in Nov. 2009. Other members in addition to Fried were Republican election lawyer Trevor Potter, Democratic election attorney Joseph Sandler, and Rebecca Gordon, counsel to the Democratic National Committee and deputy counsel to President Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Beneficial Professor of Law at HLS, Fried served as solicitor general of the United States under President Reagan. His many books include “Because It Is Wrong: Torture, Privacy and Presidential Power in the Age of Terror” coauthored with his son Gregory Fried(W.W. Norton & Co. 2010). He recently published an op-ed in The Daily Beast titled “Obama Is Too Good For Us.”