Covington’s Political Law Update (hat tip again to Rick Hasen) also discusses the “de-listing” of lobbyist issue, stating as follows:
“Many in Washington had interpreted the structure of the statute to mean that the 3-month period applies to the 20% time threshold, but not to the two-or-more-contacts requirement. The Clerk and Secretary apparently read this definition to mean that a lobbyist is an individual employed or retain for services that include more than one lobbying contact per quarter. If the Clerk and the Secretary stick to this view, individuals who have not had more than one contact in two consecutive quarters (and do not plan to in the future) can de-list, even if they still spend more than 20% of their time on lobbying activities. The Obama Administration’s restrictions on registered lobbyists has made the question of when a lobbyist can de-register more important than ever. Because the statutory basis for the Clerk and Secretary’s interpretation is somewhat dubious, it may be prudent to hold off a bit on de-listings until it is clear that they intend to stand by their interpretation.”
Although the language of the new guidance seems quite clear, I think Covington’s caution is well-advised—it would be prudent to see if the Clerk and Secretary decide to reconsider this issue.