Archive for December, 2010
Tuesday, December 28th, 2010 by Vbhotla
New Year’s Eve provides a good fundraiser occasion. Virtually no one wants to sit at home, and people are willing to pay to see and be seen as the ball drops on Times Square.
The gift rules for food and entertainment still apply to members of Congress and their staff at charity events and fundraisers.
For charity and political fundraisers, the value of a ticket for Congressional members is the cost of the meal. Note that invitations should come from the event sponsor and not a lobbyist who is buying a ticket from the sponsor to give to the Member.
Other rules of thumb for charity and political fundraisers:
- When listing Congressmen as honorary hosts, make sure that if a member of the House, other non-House members are also listed as honorary hosts.
- Representatives from the House can neither be honored nor offered an exclusive ceremonial role not offered to others; Senators may be honored if the title as Senator is excluded and the charity is not receiving any money from a lobbying entities earmarked for the event.
- Invitations must come from the organization, not individual lobbyists.
- Meals are allowed.
- Entertainment can be provided, as long as it is offered to all attendees. VIP sessions for the member/staffer are not permissible.
- No tangible gift or goodie bags may be provided.
Thursday, December 23rd, 2010 by Vbhotla
Q: Would a firm that makes $13,000 on lobbying in a quarter have to register, if none of its employees spends more than 20% of their time lobbying?
A: The short answer is no, but the 20% rule is tricky to a lot of people. Twenty percent of time includes all lobbying activity– time spent in preparation for lobbying, beyond just lobbying contacts. It is also broken down on a per client basis, meaning that the figure is not calculated relative to your total time in a quarter (meaning you may have to register on behalf of more than one client). If 20% of your billable hours for that client are spent on lobbying activities, the answer becomes yes, you must file an LD-1.
Affiliated organizations — “an entity other than the client that contributes in excess of $5,000 towards the registrant’s lobbying activities in a quarterly period, and actively participates in the planning, supervision, or control of such activities” — must be disclosed on the report as well.
Tuesday, December 21st, 2010 by Vbhotla
This time of year, everyone is throwing parties and receptions to commemorate the holiday season. And, especially in Washington circles where everyone seems to know everyone else, it may be tempting to invite members of Congress or staffers to these functions. As innocent as this may be (not everyone is inviting Hillers with hopes to gain favor, some are just being nice), there are still several things to look out for when planning the functions.
- Follow the “toothpick rule” when planning the menu. If it can’t fit on a toothpick, it may be consider a meal, and therefore members and their staff are unable to eat. The good-intentioned gesture that was the invitation turns sour when invited guests are unable to eat.
- The entertainment should be of a minimal nature. A jazz trio, harpist, etc are acceptable. A headliner concert….probably not.
- Valet, coat check, party favors and gift bags can be accepted by a member or staffer only if the value of the items does not exceed $10.
It is important to note that a holiday reception would not fall under the “widely attended event” exception to the gift rules relative to meals. A widely attended event must be related to the staffer’s official duties. A good way to make sure you’re in the clear is to indicate that “light hors d’oeuvres and cocktails” will be provided on the invitation. Just be sure to make sure the event is not transformed into a lavish party, which could get both you and the member/staffer in trouble.
Monday, December 20th, 2010 by Vbhotla
Washington insiders project that tax code discussions could be to 2011 what healthcare was to 2009 and financial regulatory reform was to 2010: a nationally divisive issue that provides a chance for lobbyists to cash in. No matter what the political allegiance, this debate has a “something for everyone” feel that will engage lobbyists across party lines scrambling to weigh in on deductions and withholdings.
Though Congress voted to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for two more years, some determination needs to be made regarding what will happen not only in the meantime, but after the cuts expire again (in line, incidentally, with another major election year). Businesses and associations favor a simplified tax code, but no one is sure about the best way to implement it. President Obama has also voiced support for a simplified code, but also is not sure of what the best practices would be.
With varied interests at stake, and no one, even Congressmen, sure where to start, there is a unique opportunity for lobbyists to take up almost any issue to promote on the Hill. And as was the case with healthcare reform and financial industry regulation, no matter what happens, no one will be satisfied, and lobbyists can be sure they will have their hands full peddling for any myriad of deductions (or elimination thereof).
Monday, December 20th, 2010 by Vbhotla
Paul Magliocchetti, is seeking home confinement, a $10,000 fine, and probation for his role in what prosecutors are calling “one of the largest criminal schemes in U.S. history to violate federal campaign finance laws,” according to a sentencing memo filed by the Justice Department.
Magliocchetti, who pleaded guilty in September to channeling $380,000 to members of the House in an attempt to secure defense contracts for clients, believes that the sought sentence is more in line with similar crimes than the penalty suggested by the district attorney’s office. Prosecutors in the case have requested 57 months of imprisonment, saying his greed significantly impugned the image and integrity of the American political process.
Monday, December 20th, 2010 by Vbhotla
Jackson Dunn, previously the associate director of public liaison for President Clinton, has been named to lead the public affairs practice at FD Americas.
Billy Piper, former chief of staff to Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), will join Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock as a senior vice president in January.
Kimberly H. Colton, former deputy chief of staff to Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), has joined the Sheridan Group as a senior policy and advocacy associate.
Lauri Hettinger, who until recently served as staff director for Sen. George Voinovich (R-Ohio), has joined Holland & Knight’s Washington office as a senior policy adviser in the firm’s public policy and regulation group.
Brett Loeper, the senior executive vice president at the Advanced Medical Technology Association, is leaving to be Rep. John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) policy director.
Thursday, December 16th, 2010 by Vbhotla
Q: My company operates on a calendar year and is looking for places to unload corporate funds before the end of the tax period. Can we support the RNC under the Citizens United decision, as long as we disclose the donations with the FEC?
A: No. Contrary to media reports, the Supreme Court’s decision does NOT permit corporations to make contributions to specific candidates or parties. In addition to the traditionally-allowed PAC donations and issue ads, you are now allowed to independently support specific candidates or parties, by urging people to “vote for candidate Johnson” or “remember to support the Republican candidates,” which was not previously allowed.
Be diligent about state disclosure requirements, which have increased since the ruling, in what many view as an attempt to dissuade corporations from increasing political spending.