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June 6, 2007

Influence Industry Blowback

Lobbyists United In Dismay Over Disclosure Rules
Professional Persuaders Vow to Fight
The lobbying disclosure bill passed by the House last week hadn't been voted on yet when Kenneth Gross stood at the head of a block-long conference room in New York, supplying 148 lobbyists and lawyers with the new congressional definition of a friend.

"Friendships have been breaking out all over Washington, because they bring the gift limit up from zero to $250," Gross, an ethics lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, said he told the group.

The House ethics committee, he said, defines a lawmaker-lobbyist friendship as a long-term relationship featuring mutual gift-giving. The lobbyist must select gifts specially for that lawmaker, and not claim them as an expense or tax deduction.

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