Tonight in Tampa, Newt Gingrich offered what he seemed to think was ironclad proof that he had never been a lobbyist: “We brought in an expert on lobbying law and trained all of our staff.”
That expert, he added, would “testify” to that point.
But to be forced to register under the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act and to lobby aren’t the same thing. The LDA merely requires that anyone who spends more than 20% of his or her time on “lobbying activities” register.
The LDA defines “lobbying activity” as “any efforts in support of such contacts, including preparation or planning activities, research and other background work that is intended, at the time of its preparation, for use in contacts and coordination with the lobbying activities of others.”
Many of Gingrich’s activities — producing public reports, testifying on behalf of policies — amount to lobbying; they may not have consumed 20% of his time.
And the reason you bring in an expert on the complicated law isn’t to avoid influence-peddling. It’s to avoid having to register.