Archive for July, 2010

Filing Reminder: LD-203 Forms Due Next Week

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 by Vbhotla

LD-203 Filing Time!

All federally-registered (more on that here) lobbyists must file and certify their LD-203 form next week.

The form is due July 30, and there is no extension available.

First time filer? Take a tutorial here at the Senate’s site.

Interested in researching previous filings? Downloadable and searchable databases are here.

Take time to read the House and Senate gift and ethics rules, since you must certify that you have read, understood, and abided by those rules.

By The Way: Minting And Mining Are Not The Same Thing

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 by Vbhotla

We’re in the process of reviewing Second Quarter LDA filings (due yesterday!), and while preparing for an analysis of the issues that had the most filings, I discovered a typo in the drop-down “issue code” selection – the issue code “Minting/Money/Gold Standard” is misspelled “Mining/Money/Gold Standard” in the drop-down menu.

Be aware of this in the future – minting and mining are two very different issues. I would assume the “/Money/Gold Standard” portion of the issue code would tip off a filer, and most LDA filers are probably well aware of the codes. But it doesn’t hurt to do a quick review of all the codes before you make your filings, to ensure a good-faith effort at accuracy.

Source: Senate Office of Public Records

I did tip off the SOPR to this issue, as well, so this may be changed before you even need to worry about another filing. Happy preparing for the LD-203! (Isn’t July great?)

Filing Reminder: LDA Forms Due Today

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 by Vbhotla

2nd Quarter 2010 LDA forms are due to the House Clerk and Secretary of the Senate TODAY.

The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, as amended by the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, requires those who have registered as lobbyists to file quarterly activity reports with the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Secretary of the U.S. Senate. The second quarter report is due Tuesday, July 20, 2010, covering April 1, 2010 through June 30, 2010.

If you are a lobbying firm or sole practitioner, you should already have a login and password for use at the site. Contact the Clerk or Secretary if you are unsure how to proceed.

Find forms and instructions at: lobbyingdisclosure.house.gov.

Fee for Lobbyists Introduced in House

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010 by Vbhotla

The OMB Watch blog “The Fine Print”points out the introduction of H.R. 5751, the “Fee on Lobbyists Act,” by Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio).

Rep. Kilroy’s press release links the introduction of the bill to what she views as improper influence by financial services lobbyists during the financial services debate. What does she propose to do about this problem? Her bill “would properly enforce the rules for federal lobbyists and special interest groups by funding the offices that are tasked with holding lobbyists accountable.”

Meaning? Fees. Specifically, the text of the bill would “amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 to require registrants to pay an annual fee of $50, to impose a penalty of $500 for failure to file timely reports required by that Act, to provide for the use of the funds from such fees and penalties for reviewing and auditing filings by registrants, and for other purposes.”

Translation: there will be a $25 fee per registration, per chamber (i.e., $25 to the Clerk of the House, and $25 to the Secretary of the Senate per registration; totaling $50 per year, per registration), and the same payment yearly, due upon filing the first quarter’s report.

Another section: penalties for improper filing. Failure to file a report as required by the Lobbying Disclosure Act would result in a $500 fine; failure to file properly on subsequent occasions would impose a $1,000 fine.

The fines would be given to the House and Senate in order to conduct audits and quality control of filings.

According to Lobbyists.info’s Factors of Influence chart, Patton Boggs tops the list of “most clients,” with 299 registered.* So their fee for their total lobbying practice (assuming proper, timely filings) would be $14,950. Which is, for a firm that made almost $40-million last year in lobbying income, chump change.

When does this take affect? Rep. Kilroy’s bill is currently in the Judiciary Committee. Assuming passage, the bill provides for application of the fee structure to registrations filed at the end of the 60-day period after the bill’s enactment.

Also: Intends to clean up inconsistencies between the House and Senate databases; provides for mandated public disclosure of late or incorrect filers (name would be removed from the list following proper filing and payment of the fee).

*current as of 4/29/2010

Celebrity Lobbyist Alert: Quinton Aaron

Monday, July 19th, 2010 by Brittany

Actor Quinton Aaron to advocate on the Hill this week

Security guard turned famous actor, Quinton Aaron of the Blind Side, will be visiting Capitol Hill this week to promote the organization, Children Uniting Nations. CUN unites at risk children with mentors to aid in their development.

For those of you who have somehow managed to not hear the story of Michael Oher (played by Quinton Aaron) here is a little summary. Michael Oher grew up in Tennessee with a decidedly difficult start in life. During his teenage years he was adopted by a well-to-do family who helped cultivate his exceptional football skills while furthering his education and providing a safe and loving environment. Oher went on to sign a 13.8 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens.

To learn more about becoming a mentor with Children Uniting Nations, please click here.

Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up

Friday, July 16th, 2010 by Vbhotla

SEC’s new rule on Pay to Play becomes effective September 30. (60 days after its publication in the FederalWeekly news Register.)

Wiley Rein’s Election Law News July 2010 (including detailed looks at the DISCLOSE Act, SEC’s Pay-to-Play restrictions, Honest Services Fraud Statute, and more).

But the real question is: will DISCLOSE pass the Senate? Proponents of the measure suffered a setback when moderate Republican Scott Brown (Mass.) announced his opposition to the House bill, and the Maine ladies (moderate Republican Sens. Susan Collins & Olympia Snowe) are still waffling.

U.S. PIRG opposed the House measure (due to the NRA exemption),but has now (grudgingly) backed final passage in the Senate. Lisa Gilbert says that “we have concluded that the greater danger is posed by an election in which voters are effectively forced to wear blindfolds as the special interests behind campaign spending are hidden from us.”

Roll Call reports on a slightly strange rash of filings by Josue Larose, apparently a one-man lobbying firm with 87 new clients. Former ALL president Paul Miller, Miller/Wenhold Capitol Strategies, “said the situation sounds unbelievable … ‘If you sign up 87 new clients — I don’t care if you are Patton Boggs or just one lobbyist — you are going to need a huge team.'” (Roll Call subscription required)

As listed in Lobbyists.info, Larose has one client as a sole proprietor, and as the lobbyist for American Federal Lobbying Firm, has several PACs clients. His organization’s website makes the claim that: “The American Federal Lobbying Firm is the most powerful lobbying firm of the world and has more clients than any other lobbying firm in the United States of America.”

Office of Congressional Ethics is getting investigatory again (which is their job), but this time, Capitol Hill denizens say, it’s a little different – they’re looking at donation/official actions correlations. The New York Times quotes Kenneth Gross (who is “fielding some of the document requests from ethics investigators”), “This is really a redefinition of the law … To pick eight members and say they voted on legislation and political contributions came in around this time is really going places that no regulatory authority has ever gone.”

Quote of the Week:

“Do I think these [de-registered lobbyists] went back to Arkansas and became farmers? No, they just weren’t doing it 20 percent anymore … I think the 20 percent rule needs to be clearly defined and also what the role of a lobbyist is.” – Dave Wenhold, president, American League of Lobbyists, Washington Post, 7/12/2010

Freebie Friday!

Friday, July 16th, 2010 by Brittany

Subscribe to Washington Representatives Online or US Congress Online PRO and receive a free copy of Washington Representatives (a $249 value!). Click here or call 1-888-265-0600 to place your order. Don’t forget to use code FreeFriday when ordering!

What is Washington Representatives Online?
Washington Representatives Online is a database of over 22,000 federal lobbyists, their firms and their clients (corporate and nonprofit). Profiles contain complete contact information as well as legislative information, lobbying income and spending, complete client and employee lists, registration status and more! We even have contact information for PACs, 527 Groups, think tanks and government legislative affairs offices. 

What is US Congress Online PRO?
US Congress Online is an online database of all Members Congress and 7,000+ staffers. Profiles include complete contact information, photos, maps, biographies and more. Staffers can be further located by their legislative areas of responsibility, title and office.

Offer applies to new subscribers of our annual subscriptions. Use code FreeFriday when ordering. Don’t wait, offer expires at midnight tonight! Click here to place your order.

K Street Cafe Adds Congressional Conversation Data

Thursday, July 15th, 2010 by Vbhotla

K Street Cafe has added some interesting content to their ongoing discussion on advocacy, communications, and technology.

“The Congressional Conversation Index (CCI) is a joint effort by Fireside 21, a communications software provider to more than 100 Members of Congress, and Adfero Group, a public relations firm that runs issue advocacy and public awareness campaigns for corporations, associations and non-profits.

For the first time ever, the CCI allows the public a glimpse into the issues driving citizen engagement with Congress. Each month, the CCI measures the average number of recorded emails, letters or phone calls that participating Members of the U.S. House of Representatives receive about various issues from the constituents they represent.”

June’s CCI measures increased constituent concern on two main areas – environment/energy, and financial services. With both issues consistently in the news lately, it is small wonder that the we’re seeing increased constituent/Congressional communication relating to those things.

The CCI also has issue-specific charts, on financial services and the BP oil spill this month.


Obama caused lobbyist deregistrations! (maybe not so much)

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010 by Drew

The Washington Post ran a story this past Monday looking at the phenomenon of lobbyist deregistrations that occurred in the wake of Obama’s election and subsequent crackdown on lobbyists. Here’s the gist:

A report from November last year, jointly written by OMB Watch and the Center for Responsive Politics,  showed nearly 1,500 deregistrations during the second quarter 2009–a significant increase over the previous two years–which seemed to be a response to Obama’s election and passage of new lobbying restrictions.

Then, two weeks ago, OMB Watch and the Center for Responsive Politics released another report showing all those deregistrations may not have been a result of Obama’s election after all. The problem, they say, is that “deregistration” is a vague term, and measuring data on when and why lobbyists deregister is difficult, making it extremely hard to draw conclusions on why exactly a deregistration spike may have occurred.

Regardless, the Washington Post article explains that it’s hard to definitively say that lobbyists who have “deregistered” have stopped all advocacy activities. In the article, Dave Wenhold, president of the American League of Lobbyists, says, “Do I think these people went back to Arkansas and became farmers? No, they just weren’t doing it 20 percent anymore.” Wenhold is referring, of course, to the 20 percent trigger whereby a lobbyist must register if they spend more than 20 percent of their time on behalf of a client lobbying.

Why would some lobbyists stay under the 20 percent trigger? Because of Obama’s stricter lobbying rules? Who knows.

Are you in compliance with all the lobbying disclosure rules? Check out Lobbyists.info’s Lobbying Compliance Center to find out.

Free Ethics White Paper

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 by Vbhotla

We’re pleased to announce that we have a new white paper posted on www.lobbyists.info. This paper is a handy-dandy collection of ethics tips from Lobby Blog – reworked into a printable, savable format.

Topics that we cover:

  • So You’re a Lobbyist… What Next?
  • Registering to Lobby as a Non-Profit
  • How to (Correctly) File Your LD-203
  • How to Report Lobbying the Executive Branch
  • What Defines a Meal on the Hill?
  • Giving A Gift: What Won’t Land You in Jail?
  • Drinks at the Bar: A Quick and Dirty Guide
  • Taking a Member or Staffer to a Ticketed Event

Simply enter your email address and print your PDF here.

Find more white papers and free resources here on www.lobbyists.info.

Filing Reminder: LDA Forms Due July 20

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 by Vbhotla

You have one week to finish compiling your paperwork and submitting it to the House Clerk and Secretary of the Senate.

That’s right, it’s that time of the year again – 2nd Quarter 2010 LDA reports are due to the Clerk and Secretary by July 20, 2010.

Read more about filing, and find forms and instructions here at the Clerk of the House’s website.

Now’s a good time to review what you need to file. Interested in a refresher course on the LD-203 form (which is due at the end of July)? If you read this before 2:oopm, consider attending our LD-203 Ethics Boot Camp, with Cleta Mitchell. Register here!

SEC’s Final Rule on Pay to Play Restrictions

Monday, July 12th, 2010 by Vbhotla

The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued final rules on pay-to-play practices by investment advisors. TheSEC Seal SEC’s commissioners voted unanimously to curtail such actions. SEC Chair Mary Schapiro, in a statement before the Commission, called the practice of pay-to-play actions “corrupt and corrupting.”

Essentially, public pension plan advisors are prohibited from steering campaign funds   in a way that would affect municipal plans.

The decision is in three main parts, according to a press release from the SEC:

  • It prohibits an investment adviser from providing advisory services for compensation — either directly or through a pooled investment vehicle — for two years, if the adviser or certain of its executives or employees make a political contribution to an elected official who is in a position to influence the selection of the adviser.
  • It prohibits an advisory firm and certain executives and employees from soliciting or coordinating campaign contributions from others — a practice referred to as “bundling” — for an elected official who is in a position to influence the selection of the adviser. It also prohibits solicitation and coordination of payments to political parties in the state or locality where the adviser is seeking business.
  • It prohibits an adviser from paying a third party, such as a solicitor or placement agent, to solicit a government client on behalf of the investment adviser, unless that third party is an SEC-registered investment adviser or broker-dealer subject to similar pay to play restrictions.

The SEC first proposed the rule last year; it is the first federal-level pay to play law in the nation. The rule come into effect 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register. State and locality pay-to-play laws are common.

Read the rule here at the SEC; watch Schapiro’s statement to the commission here.

Amendment To LDA Passes

Monday, July 12th, 2010 by Vbhotla

The House passed an amendment to the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (as amended by 2007’s Honest Leadership &Open Government Act) on June 28.  Originally the bill sought to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act, but as passed, it now amends the Lobbying Disclosure Act to “prohibit any registered lobbyist whose clients include foreign governments which are found to be sponsors of international terrorism or include other foreign nationals from making contributions and other campaign-related disbursements in elections for public office.”

The Bill passed 408-4, and received very little attention. And while this is a minor change, it could potentially limit some lobbyists from contributing politically, exercising their political speech rights in U.S. elections. According to the Department of State, there are four currently-recognized state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Sudan.  Updated: compliance expert Mark Ward points out below in the comments that: “Lobbyists of foreign governments and foreign political parties do not register under the LDA; they must register under FARA; The laws allows agents of foreign corporations to register under the LDA in lieu of FARA, but must do so even if LDA thresholds are not met.” This was not clear in the original post. Thank you to Mark for bringing it to our attention.

The bill text is now available from the GPO here (H.R. 5609). The Library of Congress’s THOMAS profile of the bill is now available here.

Lobbying Moves and Changes, Round 2

Monday, July 12th, 2010 by Vbhotla

Robert Burley has been named executive vice president for Direct Impact. Burley previously served as a senior external affairs adviser and practice leader for government and media relations for Royal Dutch Shell.

Eric Eikenberg,  Gov. Charlie Crist’s (I-Fl.) former chief of staff and Senate campaign manager, has joined Holland & Knight’s public policy and regulation practice.

Fred HumphriesMicrosoft Corp.’s top federal lobbyist, was named vice president of U.S. government affairs for the software giant.

Lindsay A. Punzenberger has been hired as an assistant vice president at Venn Strategies LLC.

Alex Slater has left The Glover Park Group after 10 years to join the communications firm SKDKnickerbocker as managing director of its expanded corporate, advocacy and crisis communications practice.

Jordan Stoick has been hired as vice president of Direct Impact. He was communications director for Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

Lobbying Moves and Changes, Round 3

Monday, July 12th, 2010 by Vbhotla

Mark Clack is a new senior vice president at Cassidy & Associates. He was a senior adviser assisting foreign countries with U.S. relations at KRL International.

Gordon Johndroe, former deputy White House press secretary  has joined APCO Worldwide as a vice president of government relations in Washington.

Marne Levine, former White House economic adviser, was hired by Facebook to be its new vice president of global public policy. Tim Sparapani will remain as director of Facebook’s DC office in charge of outreach to Congress and the federal government.

Singleton McAllister, Weldon Rougeau and Ronald Thomas II have joined Blank Rome’s government relations group as well as its subsidiary, Blank Rome Government Relations. The trio joins from LeClairRyan.

Jim Ray has been hired as a senior adviser at Venn Strategies LLC.

James P. Moore Jr. has been hired as a senior counselor at APCO Worldwide, where he will also be a member of the company’s international advisory council.