A Guide to the Lobbying Disclosure Act

Ron Book

March 3, 2023


The Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) requires individuals and organizations that engage in lobbying to register with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Registrations must include details about past and expected lobbying priorities.

Most paid lobbyists comply with the LDA, but 35% do not disclose relevant prior government positions. Moreover, most reports are incomplete or inaccurate.

State legislature

A state legislature is a group of elected officials that governs your state. It’s different in each state, but it often has committees that help make laws.

It also serves as a check on the governor’s authority and helps to oversee state agencies. It has the power to override a veto by two-thirds of its members, which can be important.

Most state legislatures are part-time, although a few are full-time and meet year-round. They vary widely in size and resources, too.

The Lobbying Disclosure Act is a set of rules that requires individuals or organizations that engage in lobbying to register with the state and file quarterly expense reports. It’s designed to make information about lobbying more accessible and to keep the public informed of lobbyists’ activities.

One of the most important aspects of the lobbying disclosure law is that it requires compensation for lobbying to be disclosed. In 26 states, that’s mandatory, while seven have partial disclosure, and only one has no reporting.


Lobbyists represent interest groups, and their lobbying is an integral part of the legislative process. They try to influence public officials, who then decide how best to implement the interests of their constituents.

In addition, lobbyists may use a legal device known as an amicus curiae brief to influence court cases. These briefs often include political and technical information about the group’s position on a certain issue.

The Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) requires paid lobbyists to file quarterly and semiannual reports on their lobbying activity and also requires them to disclose whether they previously held certain government positions. The GAO audits a sample of these reports annually to assess compliance with the requirements and identify challenges or potential improvements.

Legislative process

The Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) requires registered lobbyists to register and disclose their lobbying activities. Violations are punishable by fines and, in some cases, up to five years in prison.

The LDA applies to communications between paid lobbyists and officials in the executive or legislative branches of government. Its requirements include identifying the contacted official, reporting updated registration information in quarterly activity reports, and obtaining their written consent to contact them.

GAO evaluates compliance with the LDA by reviewing reports from registrants and interviewing them. We also cross-check information and work with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia to enforce compliance.

A registrant can file one registration for its entire lobbying firm or a separate registration for each client on whose behalf it acts as a lobbyist. If a registrant merges with another registrant, a new registration must be filed for the combined entity, and each remaining registrant/client relationship should be terminated.

Lobbying disclosure

The Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) requires registration with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives by any individual lobbyist or the registrant’s employer if it employs one or more lobbyists. Each registrant must submit an activity report (LD-1), quarterly activity report (LD-2), and semiannual contribution reports (LD-203).

In addition to reporting all expenditures for lobbying, each registrant must also include a description of any direct communication with any member of the General Assembly, the Lieutenant Governor, the Governor, or any state agency employee or official concerning a bill or resolution pending before that agency.

The LD-1, LD-2, and LD-203 must include the identity of each lobbyist and client on the reporting entity’s behalf, as well as the approximate percentage of equity ownership in the client or affiliates of the client that hold at least 20 percent of the total assets of the client. The LD-1 must also list any foreign entities that: are clients of the registrant, or whose employees or agents are clients of the registrant; directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, plan, supervise, control, direct, finance, or subsidize the activities of the client; or are affiliates of the client.