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March 4, 2013

Letter: Frank clarifies lobbying for fishermen

To the editor:

I am writing write to clear up confusion caused — embarrassingly — by my failure to fully remember a law I co-authored.

That law imposes a strict ban on lobbying by former members of Congress. For the first year after members leave office, they are barred from lobbying sitting members on behalf of any other people, whether or not it is for pay. Included in the ban is a prohibition on lobbying members of the executive branch in the company of sitting members.

When Richard Gaines, a strong champion for the fishermen, asked me if I’d be willing to accompany Senators Schumer, Warren and Gillibrand to urge the president to take action to help the fishing industry survive, I said yes.

It is a reasonable question as to why I agreed to do something prohibited by a law I helped enact in 1996. The answer is that I forgot.

The fact is to prevent evasion, the law bars what it defines as lobbying by former members for one year whether it is paid or voluntarily, I can tell the president or members of Congress what I think. I cannot do it in coordination with either private groups — such as the fishing industry — or with other members of Congress.

So Sen. Warren was not refusing my help for fisherman, her office was helping me obey the law.”

BARNEY FRANK

Newton

Former Congressman,

Massachuetts 4th District

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