Archive for May, 2010
Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 by Vbhotla
In April, the Government Accountability Office released its report to Congress on lobbyists’ compliance with federal disclosure requirements. Much to my chagrin, the GAO failed to highlight some of the common filing mistakes that continue to haunt me day in and day out. So, here are a few of the common mistakes I often encounter while reading lobbying reports.
- The “Covered Official Position” box is where you enter any previous federal positions you may have held, NOT your current job title. Federal positions that meet the requirements of a covered official position must be reported for 20 years. Do not enter “Director of Government Affairs at XYZ Lobbying Firm” on line 18. That is clearly not a federal position. While you may be proud of your recent promotion to Lobbying Head Honcho, the Clerk of the House doesn’t care (for purposes of Line 18). But if you were recently the Under-Under-Under-Under Assistant Secretary for Peanut Butter Consumption at the Department of Defense, that may need to be disclosed.*
- Each firm-client relationship should receive its own report form. And don’t post a vague client name. That goes for you too, Firm-That-Will-Not-Be-Named who registered to lobby for the client “Various Japanese Companies, Governmental Entities, Trade Associations & …” That is really not an acceptable disclosure. Unless of course, the actual, legal name of your client is “Various Japanese Companies, Governmental Entities, Trade Associations & …” but somehow I doubt that is the case.
- In the section marked “Specific Lobbying Issues,” lobbying issues must be specific. Entering “Provisions relating to the passage of HR 2454 Climate Change/Clean Air Act” is specific. Entering “Environmental Issues” is not. Entering “HR2847, S1406: Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Act for Fiscal 2010 – provisions related to NASA” is specific. (Good job, Filer-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named!). Entering “HR 2847 Approps Act” is not.
These issues may seem minor when compared to the reporting of financial contributions. But when you’re filing, you need to make every effort to be compliant and accurate. And since filing errors must be corrected through amendments, being aware of common mistakes found on lobbying reports prior to filing could be a real time-saver.
* I really hope there isn’t a Under-Under-Under-Under Assistant Secretary for Peanut Butter Consumption at the Department of Defense. Also, if you have questions about what is and is not a “covered official position,” check out our Compliance Center.
Tuesday, May 25th, 2010 by Vbhotla
In last week’s ethics tip, we discussed registering as a lobbyist. This week we’ll take a look at another form that all lobbyists must contend with: the LD-203.
Background: The LD-203 was first required as part of HLOGA, and unlike the LD-1 and LD-2, the LD-203 is filed by both organizations and individual lobbyists. It is submitted on a semi-annual basis, on July 30 and Jan. 30.
Information filed: Organizations and lobbyists are required to disclose the following:
- Any PACs that are “controlled” by the org/lobbyist
- Contributions of $200 or more made to federal candidate committees, national party committees, and leadership PACs
- Lobbyists serving on a board of a “non-connected” PAC are also required to disclose the contributions made by the PAC
- Donations to presidential libraries of $200 or more
- Donations to inaugural committees of $200 or more
Payments of any amount for the following:
- Events which “honor or recognize” a covered executive branch or legislative branch official
- Entity named for a legislative branch official
- Entity financed, maintained, established or controlled by legislative branch or executive branch official (only applies to entities that are established while serving as covered official)
- Meeting held in the name of covered legislative branch or executive branch officials
Finally, and very importantly, registrants must state compliance with the House and Senate gift rules:
“Registrant has read the House and Senate rules related to gifts and travel and has not provided, requested, or directed any gift including a gift of travel to a member, officer, employee of the House or Senate with the knowledge that giving that gift or the receipt of that gift by the House or Senate member or employee would violate Senate Rule XXXV or House Rule XXV.”
For more information on the gift and ethics rules, see our Lobbying Compliance Handbook.
Thursday, May 20th, 2010 by Vbhotla
You can watch it live at the House Committee on Administration’s website.
The mark-up will also be archived, and you can watch the hearings the Committee has held on the issue, at the same site.
Thursday, May 20th, 2010 by Vbhotla
Lobbyists.info and the American League of Lobbyists are hosting our second Lobbying Certificate Program session this year on PACs & Campaign Finance this coming Monday, May 24, from 8:45am-1:15pm.
Our sessions include a detailed presentation on rules, reporting, and thinking through an ethics situation in regard to a PAC; legal implications of LD-203 filings and other campaign finance laws; a look at the different types of PACs and Q&A with PAC experts.
In attendance to talk about registering, reporting, fundraising, staying on the right side of the FEC, and all things PAC, we’ll have:
- Officials from the FEC
- Caleb Burns, Wiley Rein LLP
- Gregg Knopp, American Council of Engineering Companies
- Wade Williams, PAC Outsourcing LLC
- Latasha Kindrick, PAC Outsourcing LLC
- Gordon Reel, Enterprise Holdings
Join us for a great session! Register here. More information on the Lobbying Certificate Program is here at the American League of Lobbyists’ site.
Thursday, May 13th, 2010 by Vbhotla
The Federal Election Commission has released their May edition of the Record newsletter. Some highlights from this issue:
- Background and continuing coverage of Speechnow v. FEC, RNC v. FEC, and FEC v. Novacek
- An announcement that the FEC Record will soon be web-based, rather than print / PDF
- Final rules on debt collection
- Stats on PAC activity: “The 4,618 federally-registered political action committees (PACs) raised $555.7 million, spent $464.6 million and contributed $174.4 million to candidates, according to reports filed with the Commission for January 1 through December 31, 2009, the first calendar year of the 2009-2010 election cycle.”
The FEC now has a section on their website “which provides downloads of itemized disbursements reported by U.S. House and Senate candidate committees for the 2010 election cycle.” See the new database over here at the FEC.
The Center for Competitive Politics is not a big fan of the DISCLOSE Act, and shows an interesting look at White House Counsel Bob Bauer’s previous statements on campaign finance disclosure requirements. Read about their views over on their site. (A taste of the post: Brad Smith makes up a new acronym for DISCLOSE: “Democratic Incumbents Seeking to Contain Losses by Outlawing Speech in Elections”).
Covington & Burling takes a detailed look at the DISCLOSE Act (including definitions). A PDF is available here.