Lungren and Donors Push ADA Non-Compliance ‘Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card’

Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) testified in committee Wednesday on his bill that would limit the ability to bring lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act. A witness opposing the measure, Andy Levy, said this legislation would “effectively creat[e] a blanket, nationwide exemption to the ADA, a virtual ‘get-out-of-jail-free card.’”

The legislation, the “ADA Compliance for Customer Entry to Stores and Services (ACCESS) Act," H.R. 3356, would require plaintiffs to file more detailed complaints and allow businesses several months to fix those problems before the complaint can be litigated. This is ostensibly to prevent “abusive lawsuits,” but would put a roadblock in front of even the most honest plaintiff.

Just weeks ago, Lungren spoke in support of the bill at a roundtable featuring California Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the Sacramento Metro Chamber. It’s not surprising that he would be willing to join their roundtable—Lungren has taken campaign money from executives or PACs of all three organizations.

According to Public Campaign Action Fund’s analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics, NFIB has given $10,250 over the past two campaign cycles, CALA’s executive director Tom Scott personally donated $450, and the members of the Metro Chamber’s executive committee have given $36,860.

Levy, a partner at Brown, Goldstein & Levy who uses a wheelchair himself, said the amendment “will eliminate much of the existing incentive businesses have to attempt to comply with the law voluntarily.”

Limiting potential liability and increasing the profits of the companies represented by Lungren’s campaign donors sure sounds like a good deal for them. But perhaps someone should ask him why their profit margin is more important than the rights of disabled Americans.