Archive for the ‘Just for Fun’ Category

Superbowl Sunday Compliance

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011 by Vbhotla

America’s Big Game happens Sunday, and some (including Sports Illustrated’s Peter King) speculate this could be the last we see for a year or so.

Lavish SuperBowl  parties are going to be in full force across the nation.  Many will flock to Dallas to see how they may get in on the action.  People will lose their minds and forget all of the rules.  However, lobbying watchdogs will not forget. And here at LobbyBlog, neither will we.  So, to keep you in compliance this Superbowl weekend, here are some things to remember:

  • You may NOT buy any staffer/member/executive branch appointee a ticket to the SuperBowl.  With tickets quickly approaching $5,000 each, unless the member/staffer/appointee pays for his/her own ticket, this amount far surpasses the acceptable gift limit for 100 (gifts (over 50 years!)!  (Remember, the rule is $50 per occurrence, $100 total per year for gifts, but NO GIFTS FROM LOBBYISTS.)

–> This does not mean it is okay to invite the staffer to pay $25 for a standing-room-only ticket, and grant him                  full access to your company’s corporate suite, like the Redskins attempted to do a few years back.  It is a bad idea.  Don’t try it.  The fallout will be highly publicized and you WILL go to jail.  (Think no one will know? So  did Abramoff.)

–> Although exceptions do exist, it is advisable that perhaps a $5,000 SuperBowl ticket is not a good time to try out the personal friendship exemption.  However, feel free to take your staffer/member/appointee staff spouse to Cowboys stadium (or surrounding bars/parking lots) Sunday.  HLOGA implicitly states that gifts from spouses are exempt.

  • The personal friendship exemption is, however, permissible if you are inviting a staffer/member/appointee to your Big Game party, assuming there’s a legitimate history of personal friendship.  If there is no such history, personal hospitality alone will not cut it.  Make the party potluck, and have your covered guest bring a dish.  If it’s the member’s party, costs must come out of his/her personal bank account, not a campaign fund or expense account.
  • Meeting at a bar to watch the main event?  Go ahead and spring for the pitcher of beer at halftime, whether there are covered officials present or not.  Nachos? Margaritas? Go for it, provided they’re of minimal value and offered in a social setting to everyone in the vicinity.  (BBQ chicken nachos with sour cream and refried beans are teetering awfully close to the official definition of a meal, however, so you may want to stick with ordinary cheese-and-jalapenos chips.)  You may NOT invite only the member/staffer/appointee to the bar and pick up ONLY his/her tab.  Unless of course the personal friendship, dating (more than casual), or marriage exemptions qualify as a personal relationship.

Turkey Day Tips: A Travel Ethics Crash-Course

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010 by Vbhotla

Today is the most traveled day of the year.  Traffic will be a nightmare, airline waits will be treacherous (especially considering the proposed boycott of airport security scanners), and everyone may be a little more uptight.  It may seem like the time to cut corners wherever possible to save time and expense, but beware of the following travel pitfalls, or you could find yourself gobbling for mercy:

  • If you’re a lobbyist and your new staffer girlfriend is coming home to meet the parents for the first time, you can NOT pay for her ticket.  If you’ve been dating awhile or are engaged, there is a “personal friend” or “significant other” (Senate only) exemption.  You will still need to get pre-approval from ethics committee if the trip will cost over $250.  The pre-approval is confidential, but very essential.
  • The new girlfriend can, however, partake in the Thanksgiving feast — as long as you have a relatively large family — because the holiday meal is a widely-attended event.
  • Make sure that any gift you give her while gone is filed on the LD-203!  (Unless of course you get engaged over the holiday, in which case fiancees are permitted to give gifts without disclosure.)
  • If using the personal friendship exemption for anything, you must be able to prove a history of gift exchange between you, not give any gifts related to any official duties, not submit any expenses for reimbursement by your employer, not count the gifts as an exemption.

Cupcakes need lobbyists too

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 by Brittany

We promise Eric didn't actually eat this whole tray. At least that's what he told us to say!

Today I brought in 70+ mini cupcakes to the Lobbyists.info offices and was trying to figure out a way to tie my new love/hate relationship with baking to my actual job. That got me thinking that cupcakes probably have lobbyists too!

After conducting some “cupcake” research in our lobbying database I discovered that they apparently have several groups lobbying for them including:

So in summary, we are currently seeking a physician to handle the sugar overdose epidemic which has recently struck the Lobbyists.info staff.

“Casino Jack” Premieres in Toronto

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010 by Vbhotla

The latest incarnation of the Jack Abramoff story is now playing at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Casino Jack,” the big-screen adaptation of Abramoff’s rise to power and fall from grace, stars Kevin Spacey in the lead role.

Spacey, who was on hand for the film’s premiere in Toronto, told Reuters that he played the role with a certain amount of sympathy for the now-disgraced lobbyist:

“His greed wasn’t self interest… Is it just that he got caught up in the game of being the best, of making the most money in the culture of the lobbying industry? When you break it down, he wasn’t doing anything that everyone else in Washington wasn’t doing. He was doing it louder, better and making more money than everyone else.”

Spacey apparently met with Abramoff while Abramoff was still in prison (he has since been released and is working in Baltimore).

“Casino Jack” is directed by George Hickenlooper; it will open in theaters in December. It was previously reported to be titled “Bagman.”

The Reuters story is available here: “Casino Jack” Shines Light on Disgraced Abramoff.”

Happy Rosh Hashanah from Lobby Blog

Thursday, September 9th, 2010 by Brittany

Traditiona Challah Bread

Last night marked the start of the Jewish New Year so I thought I would highlight some traditional Rosh Hashanah dishes and the lobbyists who in some small way make it possible to serve them.

Apples and Honey brought to you by the lobbyists at the United States Apple Association and the American Honey Producers Association

Challah bread from the Independent Bakers Association

Fish heads (not exactly my favorite) from the National Fisheries Institute

Happy Labor Day

Monday, September 6th, 2010 by Vbhotla

Lobby Blog is taking the day off for Labor Day.  Enjoy the unofficial last weekend of summer!

Fall is coming!

Have fun on your long weekend, and if you hunger for lobbying news, be sure to check out our archives, read our newest white paper on the most influential lobbyists, or peruse your copy of the Lobbying Compliance Handbook. (You do have one, right?)

Beautiful Lobbyists

Thursday, July 29th, 2010 by Vbhotla

The Hill recently released their annual list of Washington’s “50 Most Beautiful.” We know lobbyists have beautiful souls, but this issue of The Hill also recognized some lobbyists with beautiful exteriors, too. On the list:

Vinoda Basnayake photo from Patton Boggs

Vinoda Basnayake, Patton Boggs

Registered under: FARA

Clients: Sri Lanka, Embassy of Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma

Issues: Budget/Appropriations

Laura Donahoe, Van Scoyoc Associates

Laura Donahoe photo from The Hill

Registered under: LDA

Clients: Entegrion, The Free Enterprise Nation

Issues: Budget/Appropriations, Defense, Government Issues, Health Issues, Labor Issues/Antitrust/Workplace, Medicare/Medicaid,Retirement, Small Business, Taxation/Internal Revenue Code

Christine Sequenzia photo from The Hill

Christine SequenziaAnimal Welfare Institute

Registered under: LDA

Issues: Animals

Sarah Spear, Association for Advanced Life Underwriting

Sarah Spear photo from The Hill

In-house lobbyist for the association.

Off-The-Hill Political Activity Winners:

  • Patrick Gliha, PAC administrator, Amgen
  • Brittany Prime, political fundraiser, The Levatino Group
  • Jessica Knight, CBC Political Action Committee

Source: The Hill’s 50 Most Beautiful

Friday Fun: Guess Who’s Lobbying on the Oil Spill?

Friday, July 23rd, 2010 by Vbhotla

This filing from the second quarter of 2010 shows some detailed lobbying disclosure for activities related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Leave a comment (or email me at ehill@columbiabooks.com) guessing whose filing this is – first correct answer wins an awesome t-shirt!

No Pork on This Pizza

Thursday, June 24th, 2010 by Vbhotla

The influence-peddling, tax-evading, godfather-quoting disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff is out of prison and into the pizza business, the Baltimore Jewish Times reported earlier this week.

Tov Pizza, a kosher pizzeria in Baltimore, has recently taken on Abramoff, perhaps in the hope that his experience cooking books and greasing palms will translate well into cooking crusts and greasing pans. Abramoff, who was convicted in 2006 of corruption and fraud (among other convictions) has served over three years in prison and will complete the remainder of his combined six-year sentences living in a halfway house.

Don’t expect to see Abramoff flipping pies, though: the man who once took Congressional leaders on Scottish golfing trips will be working in the back office on “marketing and strategy.”

Abramoff is himself an orthodox Jew. He starred (perhaps against his will) in the recent documentary Casino Jack and the United States of Money.