June 26, 2020

First Criminal Prosecution Under The Lobbying Disclosure Act Underway

Holland & Knight Political Law Blog
Christopher DeLacy | Charles E. Borden | Samuel Brown | Stuart G. Nash

Jack Abramoff is being prosecuted for criminal violations of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (LDA). Although there have been several civil enforcement matters involving the LDA, this is the first prosecution of a lobbyist for a criminal violation of the LDA, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ):

The information filed against Abramoff also alleges that he knowingly and corruptly failed to register as a lobbyist, as required by the Lobbying Disclosure Act, after being retained for lobbying efforts that would involve one or more lobbying communications with a federal official. This is the first ever known prosecution of a lobbyist for a criminal violation of the Lobbying Disclosure Act. The information alleges that during part of 2017, Abramoff was retained by a client in the marijuana industry, and that the engagement in part involved efforts to advocate for changes in federal law and policy. The information also alleges that in June 2017, an FBI undercover agent, posing as a businessperson seeking to fund lobbying efforts, agreed to retain Abramoff for lobbying activities including lobbying contacts. After being retained, and after having a later lobbying contact with a federal elected official, Abramoff failed to register as a lobbyist with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives within 45 days of the retention or the contact, as required by the Act.

Abramoff's previous guilty plea in 2006 on felony federal corruption charges related to lobbying led to the passage of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 (HLOGA), which included criminal penalties under the LDA for the first time.

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