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Timothy LaPira, a political science professor at James Madison University, said he believes the declining number of registered lobbyists stems from a 2007 expansion of the lobbying disclosure law that toughened penalties, increased reporting requirements and charged the Government Accountability Office with conducting annual audits of lobby reports. That, combined with President Barack Obama’s ban on hiring most lobbyists for jobs in his administration, may have led to people de-registering.
LaPira noted during the online chat that the GAO is only required to follow up on lobbying reports that are filed.
“Congress did not require them to investigate those who do not register,” he wrote. “The consequence — intended or not — is that we now have less transparency about what most people would think of as lobbying influence, not more.”