Alex Sink calls for strengthening of laws on lobbying


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During her campaign for the CD13 seat, Democratic candidate Alex Sink has criticized her opponent, David Jolly, for being part of the "revolving door" network in Washington which enriches members of Congress who go on to become lobbyists.

But now she's gone beyond the rhetoric, laying out what her campaign calls a set of "principles" to break the gridlock on lobbying and campaign finance reform in the nation's capital. Those principles include doubling the cooling-off period before former members and staffers can lobby; increasing disclosure for third party groups; enhancing transparency for lobbyists; and increasing the ability of the Federal Elections Commission to hold groups accountable.

The target of this proposal is no doubt Jolly, who has served as a lobbyist in Washington since 2007, after stepping down from his previous employer, Congressman Bill Young.

“Washington lobbyists and special interests have too much power in D.C. — that’s why nothing gets done in Congress. We need to trust that our representatives are focusing on solving the challenges that matter most to Pinellas residents — not looking out for themselves or pushing an agenda that is out of touch with our values,” Sink says in a statement. “Transparency and accountability aren’t Republican or Democratic ideas — it’s about making sure we can trust our representative to focus on taking our voices in Washington.”

In the press release, Sink says that lobbyists "often take advantage of vague rules" surrounding lobbying disclosure forms to "hide exactly what special interest agenda they are pushing or if they are lobbying for or against a bill."

That's become an issue for Jolly during the campaign, as both the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and state Representative Kathleen Peters have alleged that Jolly disclosure forms show that he has lobbied for certain issues that he has denied lobbying for.

Specifically, Jolly has been accused by Peters of lobbying for a group working on Obamacare, while the DCCC has said that Jolly lobbied for offshore drilling interests. In both cases Jolly strenuously argued that he had not lobbied for such interests, and that appeared to be the case in respect to the Peters charge.

Regarding the offshore drilling issue, Jolly said he had filled out disclosure forms indicating that he had done so, but said that was only because he "had a practice of always over-complying." Sink told CL that sounded like "B.S." to her.

Regarding campaign finance reform, Sink says that some "commonsense changes" are needed at the FEC, such as adding another commissioner to the board (there are currently six, and many issues end up being divided along 3-3 party line votes), and perhaps an independent, non-affiliated member at that. She adds that the FEC should be empowered with more investigative capabilities, and to act quicker when it detects corruption.

(Update) Katie Prill, a spokesperson for the Republican National Congressional Committee, issued a statement this afternoon citing links to thousands of dollars in campaign contributions that Sink has received from lobbyists. Titling the release, "Hypocrisy is calling," Prill said, "Alex Sink’s longstanding close relationship with lobbyists makes her new outrage over the profession very hypocritical. The latest PR stunt from Sink proves that she is an out-of-touch politician who will say and do anything to get elected.”


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