Should David L. Cohen Be Registered as a Lobbyist?

Comcast's vice president does lobbyist things. Does he do them enough?

The Inquirer reports on Comcast vice president David L. Cohen and his influence in the halls of government. And the story suggests that perhaps Cohen should be registered as a lobbyist for Comcast—a designation Cohen evades because he spends less than 20 percent of his time on such activities. How is that possible? Because he works 18-hour days for Comcast. Which means he could spend three-and-a-half hours a day lobbying for the company and not run afoul of the rules.

But by not registering as a lobbyist, Cohen doesn’t face limits on travel with lawmakers and doesn’t have to file reports on his contributions to campaigns or lawmakers’ pet foundations (though the campaign donations are made public through the Federal Election Commission). The longtime Democrat is also free from Obama’s restrictions on appointing ex-lobbyists.

Like any entity that employs lobbyists – and Comcast had 11 in-house and more than 90 from outside firms last year – the Philadelphia-based company files reports showing what topics or bills it weighs in on.

But because Cohen isn’t included, it’s unclear what issues Comcast’s point man takes on himself.

The Inquirer notes that the law requires lobbyists who exceed the 20 percent threshold to self-report, which means it’s pretty easy to evade the rules. But Comcast insists it tracks the time, and that Cohen does not meet the requirements.