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Jeb Bush says he would make it harder for lawmakers to become lobbyists

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Monday outlined his ideas for limiting the influence of lobbyists. Here he speaks at a town hall meeting in Henderson, Nevada on June 27, 2015. (REUTERS/David Becker)
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Jeb Bush on Monday said that former House and Senate members should be banned from lobbying their former colleagues for six-years after leaving office as the Republican candidate outlined how he would push to limit the lobbying industry’s influence if he becomes president.

The proposed change would significantly lengthen the “cooling off period” for members of Congress who later lobby lawmakers on behalf of paying clients, such as corporations and foreign governments. House members currently have a one-year ban on lobbying and Senate members have a two-year ban. Changing the current system would require congressional action.

Bush said he would put in place similar restrictions for officials who leave the White House for lobbying jobs, but did not specify an exact length of time. Currently, executive branch officials who become lobbyists have either a one or a two-year ban, depending on their seniority level.

“I will strengthen existing prohibitions that prevent departing executive branch employees from lobbying members of my administration,” Bush said in a speech in Tallahassee.

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Bush also proposed stricter lobbying disclosure rules that would require lobbyists and members of Congress to report every meeting they have with each other.

“Every time a lobbyist meets with any member of Congress, that should be reported online — every week, and on the member’s official Web site,” Bush said.

It is not the first time Bush voiced criticism of the lobbying industry. In a speech announcing his candidacy last month, he said “swarms of lobbyists” have complicated the U.S. tax code by advocating for special provisions and carve-outs for the industries they represent.

On Monday, he continued to take aim at K Street.

“It’s the relentless expansion of government that made lobbying Washington’s premier growth industry,” he said. “Spending on lobbying has risen by more than 45 percent over the past decade, translating to $12.5 million per member of Congress. Restrain federal spending and bureaucratic meddling, and we’ll disrupt the culture that thrives on big government.”

Despite his tough rhetoric, Bush enjoys support, financial and otherwise, from many lobbyists, including several former members of Congress. This group includes retired Reps. Tom Loeffler (R-Texas) and Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.), who are now lobbyists at Akin Gump. Both declined to comment on the lobbying proposal Bush discussed on Monday. Loeffler, a longtime supporter and adviser to the Bush family, was one of eight lobbyists who bundled a collective $228,400 for Bush during the second quarter of 2015. Loeffler raised $31,500 for Bush’s campaign during that period.

[Lobbyists bundle nearly a quarter million dollars for Jeb Bush]

Bush also has the support of retired Reps. Vin Weber (R-Minn.) and Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), both of whom are now lobbyists at the lobby and public affairs firm Mercury. Neither immediately returned a request for comment Monday. Weber has spoken at an event for Bush’s super PAC about economic mobility and has said he is interested in advising on policy. Rehberg has been gathering support for Bush in Montana and Washington.

[Jeb Bush’s K Street connections]