- 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced a proposal Wednesday to slap a minimum 35% on lobbying expenses of at least $500,000 per year.
- Such a proposal “is almost certainly unconstitutional,” federal lobbying law expert Robert Kelner told Reason Magazine.
- Warren relied on lobbying for her Senate campaigns during the 2012 and 2018 election cycles, CNBC reported Wednesday.
2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced a proposal Wednesday to slap a minimum 35% tax on entities that spend at least $500,000 per year on lobbying.
Warren said her “excessive lobbying tax” plan will help Congress achieve independence from lobbyists by giving it the resources necessary to defend itself against “influence campaigns,” according to her website.
“We have to break the grip that lobbyists have on our government for good. My plan to end Washington corruption calls for something unique—a new tax on excessive lobbying,” the Massachusetts senator and Wall Street adversary wrote in a Wednesday Twitter post.
We have to break the grip that lobbyists have on our government for good. My plan to end Washington corruption calls for something unique—a new tax on excessive lobbying. https://t.co/uSnGkkAKEo
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) October 2, 2019
A 35% tax will be implemented on lobbying expenses ranging between $500,000 and $1 million, a 60% tax on lobbying expenses between $1 million and $5 million, and a 75% tax on lobbying expenses of more than $5 million under Warren’s plan.
Elizabeth Warren rolls out a new plan to tax “excessive lobbying,” which targets entities that spend at least $500,000 per year to lobby the government.
—35% tax on $500K to $1M
—60% tax on $1M to $5M
—75% tax on $5M+ spent to lobbyhttps://t.co/k86DVpsszF
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) October 2, 2019
“I have released the most sweeping set of anti-corruption reforms since Watergate. Under my plan, we will end lobbying as we know it,” her proposal reads. (RELATED: Elizabeth Warren Hires Lobbyist One Day After Releasing Plan Calling Lobbying ‘Legalized Bribery’)
“We will make sure everyone who is paid to influence government is required to register as a lobbyist, and we’ll impose strict disclosure requirements so that lobbyists have to publicly report which agency rules they are seeking to influence and what information they provide to those agencies,” it continues.
To fight lobbyists, Warren plans to strengthen Congress’ power against lobbyists through the “Lobbying Defense Trust Fund,” then give financial support for federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help them combat lobbying efforts and establish a new Office of the Public Advocate to encourage Americans to engage with federal agencies, according to the plan.
Some critics have expressed concern that the proposal goes against the First Amendment, which gives Americans the right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” or lobby, according to Reason.
“It’s pseudo-policy, a veneer of wonky seriousness draped over anti-constitutional populist dogma.”
— Brad Polumbo (@brad_polumbo) October 2, 2019
“Lobbying — or petitioning — the government to change a law, or advance an agenda, or redress a grievance, like, say, a tax on your industry, might not be held in high esteem. But it is a form of protected speech,” Reason Magazine features editor Peter Suderman wrote Wednesday.
Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume lobbied against Warren’s proposal on Twitter Wednesday.
“From the first amendment: ‘Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’ That last is what lobbying is. Does she not know this?” Hume wrote.
From the first amendment:“Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” That last is what lobbying is. Does she not know this? https://t.co/xwnNWlHIxl
— Brit Hume (@brithume) October 2, 2019
Time Magazine national correspondent Charlotte Alter similarly pointed out that the plan would likely not be held up in court.
“I think any plan to tax lobbying is almost certainly unconstitutional,” federal lobbying law expert Robert Kelner told Alter. “It’s extraordinarily likely to be struck down by the Supreme Court if not by lower courts because it would directly undermine the First Amendment right to petition our government.”
Warren proposed a big new tax on lobbyists: 35% tax on lobbying expenditures over $500k, 75% on expenditures over $5m.
But some law experts say that the First Amendment protects lobbying, so it’s unlikely this tax would hold up in court: https://t.co/v2mOy30u8V
— Charlotte Alter (@CharlotteAlter) October 2, 2019
Despite her push to restrict lobbying efforts, however, Warren relied on lobbying for her Senate campaigns during the 2012 and 2018 election cycles, CNBC reported Wednesday.
Warren’s campaign did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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