Revolving door numbers only grow
When we launched LegiStorm Pro three weeks ago, we made a bold claim: that nearly 5,400 people had served as both lobbyists and congressional aides in the last decade alone. Given the size of our database - more than 130,000 people - and the vast amount of biographical and other material we have gathered about them, we expected to hear about some errors.
But overall, our research has stood up to challenge. In one single case, we have found that our revolving door "match" was not, in fact, a match. We overreached.
But we have received two other complaints that proved the complainer to be wrong - that indeed they were unaware of their own lobbying filings. And we have also found two people to be revolving door matches that we had not found evidence of before - while the name matched, we did not have sufficient proof of a match and therefore kept them as separate people. So for the record, that is 2 underreported matches, 1 overreported match, and 2 incorrect challenges to our accuracy.
We have also heard from one correct match that it is unfair to peg him as a "lobbyist". That requires some technical explanation. We have included in our lobbying matches all those who filed paperwork as required under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) and the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). They are not exactly equivalent. The LDA requires domestic lobbyists to register, which is more straightforward.
FARA requires anyone who is acting on behalf of a foreign entity in a "political or quasi-political capacity" to register. This covers lobbyists who represent foreign interests, but also covers public relations people who may not directly lobby Congress or the executive branch and instead simply try to get their clients' positions more widely known. This is a valid criticism. However, the original data makes no true distinction between the foreign lobbyists and the foreign public relations people, so we will continue to report as we have done, with all "foreign agents" considered as potential revolving door lobbyists.
In the past week alone, we have added another 10 revolving staffer-lobbyists and expect to add many more in the next two weeks as quarterly lobbying filings become available.