Archive for June, 2011

Arizona Cardinals vs. Lobbying Gift Rules

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 by Vbhotla

Pro Football Talk reports that the Arizona Cardinals offered free tickets to elected officials to “build a better relationship” with state legislators.  Other Arizona teams have called the practice “a bad idea,” and have steered clear of offering tickets to lawmakers.  While it is definitely a bad idea, it’s a bit less clear whether or not the Cardinals are in violation of state lobbying laws.

If the matter were involving federal officials, the practice would absolutely be in opposition to the HLOGA gift ban.  But in Arizona, the law states that “A principal, designated lobbyist, authorized lobbyist, lobbyist for compensation, public body, designated public lobbyist or authorized public lobbyist or any other person acting on that person’s behalf shall not make an expenditure or single expenditure for entertainment for a state officer or Generic Cialis state employee. A state officer or state employee shall not accept an expenditure or single expenditure for entertainment from a principal, designated lobbyist, authorized lobbyist, lobbyist for compensation, public body, designated public lobbyist or authorized public lobbyist or any other person acting on that person’s behalf.”

Technically, the team is not making “an expenditure” for the tickets, since the team has control over the tickets.  But there is, in theory, lost revenue that could be ascribed to expenditures.  The Cardinals have not gotten in any trouble over the gifts thus far, so perhaps the relationship-building efforts have been successful.  But for the rest of us, we should adopt the beliefs of the region’s other teams: giving event tickets to elected officials is probably a bad idea (and against the rules, according to HLOGA.)

LD-203 Filing Boot Camp with Cleta Mitchell

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011 by Brittany

We promise not to make you run sprints!

LD-203 Filing Boot Camp
An audio training session with compliance expert Cleta Mitchell
July 13, 2011 from 2:00-3:30 EST

On July 30th all federally registered lobbyists must file, sign and certify their LD-203.

Are you confident you know all you need to know? After all, certifying your ethical conduct means understanding a mountain of differing rules for Buy Levitra House, Senate and the Executive branch. It means knowing for sure that you’ve got all the right supporting records. And it means being able to prove you’ve made substantial efforts to educate employees and ensure compliance.

Register now for The LD-203 Filing Boot Camp. This three-part program ensures that you and your entire staff will come away confident that you understand the rules of ethical conduct for lobbyists and non-lobbying personnel alike.

Grassroots Goes Social

Monday, June 13th, 2011 by Brittany

Ignore at Your Own Risk:
How Social Media is Becoming a Driving Force in Grassroots Lobbying
A webinar on June 23 from 2:00-3:30 EST 

Join us for a 90 minute interactive webinar on grassroots lobbying that will teach how all of the newest technological tools can help advance your message.

Our grassroots advocacy experts, Alan Rosenblatt of the Center for American Politics and Amy Showalter from the Showalter Group will set out a step-by-step plan for launching your online grassroots strategy to help you effectively engage your audience and promote a sense of community while effecting real change in Congress.

Discuss best practices for online strategies and employing real-time tactics and answer these three fundamental questions BEFORE you go social!

  1. WHY exactly should you go online
  2. WHAT is your organization trying to accomplish
  3. HOW can you leverage the various platforms for the most benefit 

Register now In addition to learning the myriad of options and how-to’s for social media engagement, you will learn how to maximize your online presence by increasing online trust, and using that trust to move your online advocates offline. The rules of trust in digital discussions aren’t much different than in-person networking, but the tools have changed.

In just 90 minutes you’ll find out:

  • How to promote a truly interactive online community  
  • How to leverage a Congress member’s online presence as a virtual office when getting through to the official offices
  • What is meant by the statement “Message control is dead.”
  • Three elements of face-to-face credibility and how to engage audiences online
  • Two actions that will hurt your online credibility
  • Five mistakes that can undermine your web site’s integrity (and how to avoid them)
  • How to gauge which online advocates have offline potential
  • The psychological tools that motivate volunteers to offline interaction
  • The ideal offline structure for maximum volunteer engagement and ownership   

Webinar Details
June 23, 2011: 2:00-3:30 EST
Have multiple staff members listen in on the same line!
Register now

K.I.T!: Communication Techniques with Advocates

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 by Brittany

Just like in high school when we encouraged our friends to “K.I.T.” (“keep in touch”) with us during the summer months when signing yearbooks, organizations should be engaged in keeping in touch with their advocates on a year-round basis. However, there is a strategic element to the types of messages that are sent out to particular advocates…

Advocate leaders will need to communicate with a variety of audiences within the advocate network, including:

  • Existing or potential grassroots network members
  • Existing or potential grasstops network members
  • Existing or potential coalition members

Within these broad categories, an understanding of the following details about advocates will be essential to effective communications.

  • State / District of residency or work:  In order to facilitate effective advocate actions based on constituency, advocate leaders must be able to match members of the advocate network with their relevant policymakers. This includes, where possible, both residency connections as well as corporate connections.
  • Connections to legislators:  In addition, the work done in early network development stages to identify “grasstops”-style connections (i.e., that an advocate has a friendship or business relationship with an elected official) will be helpful in better targeting messages to relevant advocates.
  • Expertise / anecdotal connections to issues:  Advocate leaders should also be able to identify quickly and easily those advocates with a compelling story to tell and/or those with a strong expertise in the issues.  This information can be used to identify potential grasstops advocates and/or advocates that can testify in front of committees or help draft responses to regulatory rulemakings.

The effectiveness of the communications can be further improved by segmenting the audience based on the following measures:

  • Level of interest / involvement in the advocacy effort:  Advocates that are more active may be more willing to receive multiple communications.
  • Topics of interest:  If an organization manages a wide range of policy issues, it may be appropriate to ask advocates what topics they are most interested in hearing about.

In short, different audiences may receive different types of communications (for example, potential members of the network will receive recruitment communications whereas existing members will not).  In addition, certain strategies may work with one type of audience, but not another (for example, grasstops members may be far more receptive to a “pull” approach, such as a social network).  Having a strong understanding of the audience will enhance the advocate leader’s success in communicating messages.

For more information or to purchase the Advocacy Handbook click here.

Ethics Tuesday: Beyond Laws and Codes

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011 by Vbhotla

HLOGA was birthed out of a desire to decrease corruption in politics by increasing the ethical standard to which lobbyists, in their dealings with elected officials, were held.  While some of the reporting requirements are cumbersome, most lobbyists agree with being held to an ethical standard, because most lobbyists are not doing anything questionable.  Anything to “remove the red ‘L’ from our lapels,” as American League of Lobbyists executive director Gina Bancroft put it.  Here are some cues to follow to make sure that even if the current laws don’t cover it, your actions are ethical and you are in good shape to continue lobbying successfully in the long-term:

1) Visceral reaction – What is your gut telling you?  If you’re calling on counsel, because it just doesn’t feel right, it might be because it’s not.  Sometimes your stomach indicates more than indigestion.

2) The Washington Post test – Will this land you in the Washington Post (or other publication)?  If so, in what light could it be portrayed?  A negative story, whether the actions detailed are against the law or not, will affect business.

3) Try to separate lobbying from campaign donations.  Discussing issues at fundraisers or while dropping off an envelope of campaign donations is not unethical, but it is distasteful.  Avoid the appearance of impropriety: talk about family, hunting, the Nats/Caps (the Skins/Wizards might just make people angry), vacations, or anything else that is not relative to either of your jobs.

Lobbying — There’s an App for that.

Friday, June 3rd, 2011 by Vbhotla

Many organizations are exploring mobile apps as a way to enhance lobbying efforts, but they admonish that mobile activity does not replace traditional face-to-face lobbying contacts. Pictured above, the Amnesty International, ONE, and Human Rights Watch Apps for iPhone/iPad

U2 front man Bono, who has oft been cited as one of the better celebrities-turned-lobbyists, announced this week an iPhone app that hopes to make grassroots lobbying more efficient.    His anti-poverty organization, ONE, released an app that provides users a script to aid them in talking to elected officials and allows them to call lawmakers with the touch of a button.

The app, and others like it, makes it increasingly easier for Viagra 100mg citizens to contact their lawmakers and more likely that they will.  I, for one, often run out of things to read across my apps while commuting via Metro to the next destination, and expect that many commuter citizens encounter the same problem.  Mobile advocacy apps will –while solving the trivial problem of commute boredom — put the issues, platform, and means to contact the elected officials literally right at their fingertips, and make it more likely that they will take action.

The American Cancer Society, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International have all launched mobile apps in recent months as well.  The tools often include news and social media interaction in addition to the advocacy tools.

Wedding/Graduation/Baby Gifts

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 by Brittany

June seems to be the month where everyone is holding bridal showers and baby showers, which high school and college graduations are also in full force. Lobbyists should take heed and be cautious on whether to give a particular gift.

In addition to food, drinks, travel, and lodging, there are occasions when people want to give tangible gifts to Members and staffers – and sometimes those who want to give gifts are lobbyists and the organizations and associations that employ or retain them.  The $50/$100 allowance in place before the enactment before HLOGA still applies to non-lobbyists and in certain instances, the organization or company that employs or retains the lobbyists. However, HLOGA included a gift ban that applies to every individual lobbyist and every lobbying firm.

General rule on gifts:  Lobbyists and entities that employ or retain lobbyists (and registered foreign agents) may not pay for or give any gift to a Member Buy Viagra of Congress or a congressional staffer.  For purposes of the gift rule, an entity that employs or retains lobbyists to represent only the organization’s interests will not be considered a lobbyist.

Type of Gift Factors Allowing Gift
Special occasions:  Weddings, Anniversaries, Babies, Graduations 
  • General Waiver: Advance written request from Member/staffer for general waiver for gifts for wedding or birth of a baby (not public)
  • If no advance waiver, must obtain specific waiver for specific gifts (public)
  • If valued at more than $335, must be disclosed on personal financial disclosure report
  • Waiver may be requested on case-by-case basis for significant anniversaries and graduations


Gifts to Spouses or relatives of Members/staffers
  • Gifts to spouses or relatives of Members and staff may not be accepted if given to circumvent the prohibitions on gifts to Members and staffers



For more information or to purchase the Lobbying Compliance Handbook click here.