Archive for the ‘Lobbying News’ Category

Association Lobbying Analysis: 2012 v. 2017

Friday, May 18th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

Those who work in the government relations industry know, policy focus and fervor changes with each new administration. Lobbyists must demonstrate their adaptability to changes in the political climate—to get the job done no matter who is at the helm. So, how do association lobbying trends vary over time? When a new head of state is in the White House, what changes in the association advocacy space? Are you curious? Association TRENDS was too.

Through Lobbyists.Info, the one-stop resource for information on lobbying and government relations, we pulled data directly from LDA disclosure forms filed with the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives for the full years of 2012 and 2017 to see what associations spent the most money on outside counsel, which lobbying firms receive the most money from associations, and which issues are most frequently registered for by associations. Here’s what we found out.

*Source: Data completed by lobbyists.info in partnership with Association TRENDS. Spending data sourced directly from lobbying disclosure filings and based solely on association activity and does not reflect any other client activity.

Lobbyists.Info Launches First Full-Scale Government Relations Industry Compensation Survey

Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

May 2nd, 2018 WASHINGTON DC – Lobbyists.Info is launching the first ever full-scale Government Relations Compensation Survey spanning the complete landscape of government relations professionals from firms to corporations, associations, PACs and think tanks. Lobbyists.info, provider of industry staples including Washington Representatives to the US Congress Handbook and Almanac of American Politics, aims to explore and unveil compensation truths and trends in an often misunderstood industry.

Given the complexity of the industry structure which includes a wide variety of professional focuses, specialties, and education levels and the lack of a certifying body, government relations has been vastly ignored in compensation reporting.
The Survey can be completed by any individual involved in government relations and advocacy work including registered lobbyists, policy experts, PAC staff, advocacy managers and more.

This completely anonymous survey and comprehensive report will analyze compensation trends in the GR industry by:

• Age
• Gender
• Education Level
• Government Experience
• Industry Type
• Organization Type
• Lobbying Registration Status
• Legislative Issue Specialty
• Job Title and Function
• Location

The Government Relations Compensation Survey will require no name or contact information be given, leaving total anonymity for survey takers. No personally identifiable information will be captured during the process unless voluntarily provided by survey takers. During the creation of the Government Relations Compensation Report, participant information will be combined with other survey takers, summarized, and analyzed to further protect anonymity.

Lobbyists.Info is excited to work in tandem with the Government Relations industry to answer questions like these and look behind the industry curtain through the creation of this innovative and comprehensive report.

What advanced degrees are most pervasive? How important is past government experience? What specific job titles are showing the widest pay scales? Does the glass ceiling exist in the industry?

To participate go to http://www.lobbyists.info/The-Government-Relations-Industry-Compensation-Report. Participants are eligible to receive a free executive summary of the report and can purchase the complete results for a discounted, participants only rate.

Lobbying Disclosure Act Revenue for Q1

Thursday, April 26th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

According to Politico, here are the Lobbying Disclosure Act revenue rankings for the first quarter of 2018:

Top Firms:

  1. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: $10 million (versus $10 million in Q4 2017 and $9.5 million in Q1 2017)
  2. Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck: $7.2 million (versus $8.3 million in Q4 2017 and $6.7 million in Q1 2017)
  3. BGR Group: $6.9 million (versus $6.9 million in Q4 2017 and $5 million in Q1 2017)
  4. Squire Patton Boggs: $6.3 million (versus $6 million in Q4 2017 and $5.8 million in Q1 2017)
  5. Holland & Knight: $6.1 million (versus $6.3 million in Q4 2017 and $5.1 million in Q1 2017)
  6. Cornerstone Government Affairs: $6 million (versus $5.1 million in Q4 2017 and $4.5 million in Q1 2017)
  7. Covington & Burling: $4.5 million (versus $4.5 million in Q4 2017 and $4.2 million in Q1 2017)
  8. Williams & Jensen: $4.5 million (versus $4.2 million in Q4 2017 and $3.9 million in Q1 2017)
  9. Capitol Counsel: $4.4 million (versus $4.7 million in Q4 2017 and $4.2 million in Q1 2017)
  10. K&L Gates: $4.4 million (versus $4.4 million in Q4 2017 and $4.3 million in Q1 2017)

Top Spenders:

  1. U.S. Chamber of Commerce: $15.4 million (versus $16.8 million in Q4 2017 and $17.2 million in Q1 2017)
  2. National Association of Realtors: $13 million (versus $22.2 million in Q4 2017 and $10.1 million in Q1 2017)
  3. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America: $10 million (versus $5.9 million in Q4 2017 and $8 million in Q1 2017)
  4. U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform: $7.5 million (versus $7 million in Q4 2017 and $7.4 million in Q1 2017)
  5. American Medical Association: $6.6 million (versus $4 million in Q4 2017 and $6.8 million in Q1 2017)
  6. Business Roundtable: $5.6 million (versus $17.4 million in Q4 2017 and $2.3 million in Q1 2017)
  7. Google: $5 million (versus $4.4 million in Q4 2017 and $3.5 million in Q1 2017)
  8. American Hospital Association: $5 million (versus $4.6 million in Q4 2017 and $4.6 million in Q1 2017)
  9. Pfizer: $4.7 million (versus $1.9 million in Q4 2017 and $3.8 million in Q1 2017)
  10. Northrop Grumman: $4.4 million (versus $2.7 million in Q4 2017 and $4.3 million in Q1 2017)

Biggest Contracts:

  1. Covington & Burling: Qualcomm ($1.1 million)
  2. Cornerstone Government Affairs: Lankford & Reed ($750,000)
  3. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld: Gila River Indian Community ($670,000)
  4. McGuiness, Yager & Bartl: HR Policy Association ($650,000)
  5. Federal Policy Group: Edward Jones ($500,000)

The Rise and Fall of Tony Podesta

Thursday, April 19th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

Tony Podesta’s lobbying firm ended in 2015 as the third largest in Washington D.C., according to the Wall Street Journal. The firm had about 30 million dollars in revenue from over 100 different clients from Google to Wells Fargo. His firm had great potential with Hillary Clinton on the 2016 Presidential ballot as well. Podesta was one of Washington’s most influential players.

Until it all fell apart.

In 2016, with “financial problems, legal threats and the election of President Donald Trump,” his clients all disappeared. This tumble from the throne occurred due to Podesta’s ties to Paul Manafort- Trump’s former campaign manager- and questions about whether the firm did work for a Russian bank under sanctions. One of the few things that could have saved Podesta’s status would have been the election of Hillary Clinton, however that did not go to plan for him either. Then, Podesta decided to step down from the firm.

During the heyday of the Podesta group, Mr. Podesta “drew an annual salary of more than two million dollars and made millions more in commissions and bonuses.” According to fundraising records, “he and Heather Podesta together donated more money to the Democratic Party and its candidates than any other Washington lobbyists in the past decade.” Podesta not only ruled Washington lobbyists, but he was also the socialite, restauranteur and art collector every Washington insider strived to be. However, his love of art drove a wedge between him and Mrs. Podesta and they eventually filed for divorce in 2014. After the divorce, Podesta began to take on clients simply for their monetary value, such as the NRA, much to the dismay of his Democratic Party base supporters and his own employees. One lobbyist quit and cost the Podesta Group two million dollars in revenue. Podesta’s overseas business doubled from 2011 to 2015. His clients included the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Iraq and the government of South Sudan.

Return of the TPP?

Thursday, April 12th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

Amid the trade dispute with China, President Trump is currently weighing the possibility of rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to the Washington Post. The original intent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by the Obama administration was to “counter China’s influence,” but Trump did not agree with that decision and pulled the U.S. out of the deal in early 2017. Economic Council Director Larry Ludlow and two GOP Senators suggested that the U.S. needs to “do business with all the people [China’s] doing business with in the region: their competitors.” Trump’s response was to tell the group to consider getting the U.S. back into the TPP.

“Engaging in talks to reenter the TPP would be part of a broader White House strategy to respond to an escalating trade flap between Trump and Beijing.” Trump believes the U.S. has been part of many unfair trade deals with China, so he has taken a hard line approach to dealing with the Chinese on trade. However, he has not succeeded at rallying other countries to “backstop” his approach involving new tariffs. The TPP involved the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Japan, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia and a number of other countries. It was intended to create a sense of power in numbers when dealing with China on trade.

The deal, however, never went into effect. Trump refused to sign the trade deal because he believes the United States has been “ripped off” in large multinational trade deals in the past. Further, he has a general distaste for any Obama-era decisions. President Obama wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post in May 2016 aiming to rally support for domestic political backing in entering the deal. He wrote, “increasing trade in this area of the world would be a boon to American businesses and American workers, and it would give us a leg up on our economic competitors, including one we hear a lot about on the campaign trail these days: China.” However, Trump refused to participate in the partnership at that point.

 

From Candidacy to Congress

Thursday, March 29th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

The following candidates have won congressional primaries this year in districts where their party is largely in control. These party nominees almost certainly will win election in November and become House Members in the 116th Congress, which will convene in January 2019. Additional names will be added to the list following primaries in other states, which will extend until September. These bios are an initial version of the profiles that will appear in the 2020 Almanac of American Politics, which will be published by Columbia Books.

Freshman Congressman Blog Image (002)

Chuy Garcia; Illinois – 4

  • Arrived in Chicago as a 5-year-old immigrant from Mexico
  • Graduated from the University of Illinois
  • Spent 6 years on the Chicago City Council, 6 years in the State Senate, and 8 years in his current seat on the Cook County Board of Commissioners
  • Unsuccessfully challenged Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s reelection in 2015


Sylvia Garcia; Texas – 29

  • Graduated from Texas Woman’s University and received her law degree from Texas Southern University in Houston
  • In 1998 became Houston City Controller
  • Elected in 2002 to the Harris County Commissioners Court; the first woman, and first Latina to hold that position


Van Taylor; Texas – 3

  • Graduated Harvard College and Harvard Business School
  • Captain in the Marine Corps, winning awards for his services as a platoon commander and intelligence officer in Iraq
  • Elected to the Texas Senate in 2014, previously serving four years in the state House


Veronica Escobar; Texas – 16

  • Graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso
  • Taught Chicano Literature at UTEP
  • Served as El Paso County Commissioner
  • Served 7 years as El Paso County Judge

 

*These profiles were prepared by Richard Cohen, Chief Author of The Almanac of American Politics with the assistance of biographical and campaign information from the Ballotpedia, The Encyclopedia of American Politics, website. This content may not be copied or duplicated without permission from Columbia Books and Ballotpedia.

New Tariffs on China: Where does the American consumer fit in?

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

On Thursday, President Trump unveiled new trade restrictions on China that would block $50 billion in Chinese exports from entering the United States, according to Politico. Trump claimed the restrictions will “make us a much stronger, much richer nation.” The Trump administration created these restrictions as “punishment for Beijing’s intellectual property practices.” The targets of the restrictions are Chinese technology companies who, according to the administration, are forcefully taking from U.S. companies. The White House also plans to add “25 percent additional tariffs on certain products that are supported by China’s unfair industrial policy.”

These new restrictions are just the first step that the White House plans to take to “counter Chinese policies that U.S. technology companies argue force them to surrender billions of dollars in intellectual property and other proprietary information to gain access to China’s state-controlled economy.” Trump claims that the U.S. and China are in the midst of a very serious negotiation. He also wants to restrict Chinese companies from investing in certain sectors of the U.S. economy.

On Capitol Hill, there has been a cautious reaction from lawmakers. They support “cracking down on China but not at the expense of U.S. businesses and consumers.” Sen. Orrin Hatch said that his continued support is “contingent on the president choosing an appropriate remedy.” Rep. Kevin Brady, House Ways and Means Chairman, urged Trump to find a remedy that does not impose new taxes on products Americans buy.

Chinese retaliation is inevitable, especially in soybeans, aircrafts and other exports. However, Trump still believes he is coming through on his campaign promise to remedy Chinese “trade abuses,” no matter what the cost to the American consumer. The Trump administration uses China’s “Made in China 2025” plan as a central point in their argument to limit technological trade with China. The plan aims to “support growth in advanced industries and technologies, such as biopharmaceuticals, robotics and artificial intelligence, electric vehicles and next-generation telecommunications.”

Better Late than Never: Trump’s New Sanctions Against Russia

Thursday, March 15th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

The Trump administration announced that the U.S. will impose “new economic sanctions on two-dozen Russian individuals and entities for cyberattacks in the U.S. and meddling in the 2016 election, senior national security officials said,” according to The Hill. The Treasury Department will “freeze the assets and prohibit Americans from doing business with the accused Russians.” Some of the fraudulent organizations have already been indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

This week, Moscow has been accused by the British government as well as United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley for various alleged crimes. British Prime Minister Theresa May “expelled 23 Russian diplomats and the U.S. has signed on to a joint statement with its Western European allies slamming Russia for the ‘abhorrent’ attack and demanding accountability from Moscow.” Nikki Haley

The Treasury also “continues to pressure Russia for its ongoing efforts to destabilize Ukraine, occupy Crimea, meddle in elections, as well as for its endemic corruption and human rights abuses.” The Russian government has been described as “reckless” and “irresponsible” in regard to their use of a military-grade nerve agent “in attempt to murder two UK citizens.” However, the central message of the new sanctions is to stop Russian election meddling. Robert Mueller has already charged most of the individuals connected with setting up an interference campaign in the 2016 election. In addition, the Treasury Department has “targeted two Russian intelligence organizations in retaliation for what officials described as widespread and persistent cyberattacks.” Further, government officials believe the attack cost companies and individuals billions of dollars worldwide and “wreaked havoc on the global shipping trade.”

To appoint or not to appoint, that is the question

Thursday, March 8th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

Since President Trump took office, “more than 2,745 political appointees have joined the federal government…including at least 187 former lobbyists and also 125 people with ties to conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute, the records show,” according to The New York Times. ProPublica posted the records of federal employees online, which also offers a “comprehensive look at how Mr. Trump is influencing the direction of the federal government.

Trump has not only influence the trajectory of the government with high-level cabinet appointees, but he has also “rewarded people who have been loyal to him or share his priorities,” such as a recent college graduate who earned a job as an aide to the commerce secretary after working on Trump’s campaign in New York for a few months. However, Trump has yet to fill about 35 percent of the positions needing Senate confirmation. Unlike other presidents before him, President Trump did not arrive in Washington with a long list of political friends. Therefore, he’s bringing in like-minded people from other aspects of his life to fill the positions, so far. At the White House alone, almost 60 former campaign workers have been hired. Many of the other hires are former lobbyists who “recently lobbied the agencies where they now work.” To work in the agencies on the same issues they previously worked on, these former lobbyists must comply with guidelines and sign an ethics waiver.

While no comparative database exists, experts say that the Trump appointments stand out in comparison with previous presidents. Thomas E. Mann, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution said, “overall, my reading is that the Trump political appointees have less expertise, in their respective areas, than any presidential administration dating back to at least the Reagan era.” Internal staff believes that the “administration had appointed well-qualified staff.” Executive agency staff who have worked in their positions through multiple administrations say that the new appointees have added value.

Infrastructure in 2018?

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

A new CNN generic poll shows Democrats leading in the congressional polls by 16 points. The party in power also historically loses ground during midterm elections. The majority party often has problems getting voters to turn out for the midterms because they get complacent. Given these factors, and the GOP’s struggle to pass legislation other than the tax bill, Democrats are looking good for November.

However, Democrats are defending 25 Senate seats while the GOP is defending eight.

Given the lack of action on the part of the GOP this year, it’s no surprise that, “Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) thinks getting an infrastructure bill across the finish line this year will be tough,” according to Politico. Therefore, leading lobbyists are advising their clients to “start thinking about what a bipartisan infrastructure plan could look like if the Democrats take back the House in November.” Congress is unlikely to pass President Trump’s $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan this year “because [they] have so many other things to do and we don’t have much time” said Cornyn. However, Sen. Tom Carper disagrees with Sen. Cornyn. He believes that Congress must find a path forward on infrastructure this year. However, lobbyists are not discouraged. While they believe that there might not be an infrastructure bill this year, they are “not backing down” in their advocacy, said Julie Minerva, a partner at Capri and Clay. A Republican lobbyist described 2018 as, “the year to build momentum on infrastructure.”

Even though a large infrastructure bill might not pass this year, smaller initiatives might pass. “Infrastructure lobbyists are paying attention to the Water Resources Development Act, which authorizes water projects.” Other smaller infrastructure projects are still on the table, such as the Inland Waterways Trust Fund and the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.

The New Tax Bill – What Nonprofits Should Know Right Now

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

On December 22, 2017, H.R. 1 (also known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) was signed into law. This new tax law provides sweeping changes that potentially impact all U.S. taxpayers, including associations and other exempt organizations. For the most part, these changes are effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017.

The full text of the bill is here. The following provisions are of particular interest to exempt organizations:

• Decrease in Maximum Tax Rate – The bill decreases the tax rate for corporations, and on unrelated business taxable income (UBTI) for exempt organizations, from a maximum of 35% to 21%. Note that this new 21% rate is a flat tax rate. This decreased tax rate also applies to the proxy tax on exempt organizations for lobbying and political expenditures incurred, and also for Form 1120-POL.

This change in the tax rate structure may affect your organization’s estimated tax calculations. Your overall tax liability may decrease, or it may increase, based on your organization’s pre-2018 incremental tax rate.

In addition, for financial statement purposes, organizations should consider this new rate in valuing its deferred tax assets and liabilities, for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017.

• Unrelated Business Income – The bill requires exempt organizations carrying on more than one unrelated trade or business to calculate UBTI separately for each trade or business. This practice effectively prohibits using losses relating to one trade or business to offset income from another trade or business.

• Non-Deductible Fringe Benefits – The bill increases UBTI by the amount of certain fringe benefits for which deductions are disallowed. These fringe benefits include qualified mass transit and parking benefits paid by the employer. However, the provision for amounts paid by an employee through elective salary deferral via a qualified transportation fringe plan appears to be unchanged and would not be subject to tax.

• Executive Compensation – The bill imposes a 21% excise tax on compensation over $1 million for executives of nonprofit organizations. The excise tax is imposed on the organization and not on the employee.

 Net Operating Losses – The bill eliminates carrybacks of net operating losses (NOL), and it allows unused NOLs to be carried forward indefinitely. The bill also limits the NOL deduction to 80% of a taxpayer’s taxable income. These changes to the application of NOLs are effective for losses arising in tax years beginning after December 31, 2017.

 Local Lobbying Expenses – The bill eliminates the deduction for lobbying expenses regarding legislation before local government bodies, including Indian tribal governments. As a result, these expenses will be included in the calculation of non-deductible membership dues or proxy tax liability.

• Provisions Not Included – Certain provisions affecting nonprofits from earlier drafts of the tax bill have not been signed into law at this time. These provisions include the repeal of the Johnson Amendment, prohibiting Section 501(c)(3) organizations from engaging in political activity; the inclusion of name and logo royalties in UBTI; and changes to the methods for determining reasonable compensation for the purposes of the intermediate sanctions excise tax.

Many of these provisions require additional clarification and guidance, and still, others may require technical correction. We will provide additional information in the coming weeks regarding how the new tax bill could affect your organization. Please consult any member of the Tate & Tryon tax team if you have questions regarding this matter.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Lobby Days

Thursday, February 15th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

If you’re planning an advocacy day in spring 2018, you’re not alone. From February through early May, an estimated ten and fifteen thousand advocates come to DC per week to meet with their legislators and staff. Yes, that’s per week. How can you rise above the crowd and get the meetings you need? Avoiding the following “sins” is an important first step!

Sin #1 – Non-Constituency

You’ll waste a lot of time if you don’t focus on constituency-based meetings. Legislators and staff rarely meet with anyone outside their district, particularly when they receive dozens of requests per day. If you’re scheduling for a group of advocates, each of whom have multiple locations in multiple districts (for example, businesses with headquarters in multiple locations), be sure to collect those addresses as well.

Sin #2 – Non-Written Requests

You’ll generally be asked to submit your initial request via e-mail, web form or—in the case of one office that shall not be named—fax.  It could even be carrier pigeon. To find out the best method, check the contact tab on the Congressperson’s website (accessible through www.house.gov and www.senate.gov).  Whatever you do, use that method.

Sin #3 – Assumption

Never assume that your request actually got to the office or that the scheduler will just magically get back to you. With hundreds of requests to go through a day, things get lost. Often.  When you call to follow-up, be sure to say “I’m calling regarding a scheduling request I already sent in.”  That way you can avoid the discussion about how to send in a request.  Also, be sure to take notes about when they’ll be able to look at the request.  It’s a waste of your time and theirs to call them every week if they’ve told you they won’t be able to consider the request until the week before the event (which is common).

Sin #4 – Member-itis

Recognizing advocates can be a little prickly about meeting with staff, never, ever insist on meeting only with the member, unless you’re willing to give up the meeting altogether. Getting legislator meetings 20 to 25% of the time is an outstanding percentage for any group. If you’re offered a meeting with a staff person, go ahead and set it up, and see Sin #6 for tips on helping your advocates not be disappointed with the outcome.

Sin #5 – Inflexibility

This is particularly a problem when it’s combined with high expectations. Too many groups offer a very small meeting window and then are irritated when staff or members are not available in the 12:00pm to 2:00pm time slot they’ve designated for meetings. Try to have an entire day available – and ask your advocates to bring a good book.

Sin #6 – Training Only on Policy, not Process

Yes, it’s important that advocates understand the asks.  You want to be sure they can walk into an office to state with some confidence that they are asking for $6 billion for such-and-such program or for the legislator to cosponsor such-and-such bill.  But remember that advocates are intimidated by this information.  They become concerned that if they forget the bill number or the appropriation amount they will look stupid and ruin the entire experience for the whole organization.  Unfortunately, many groups leave out some of the most important knowledge – how to have an effective meeting.  Your tips in this area should include details on how to deliver a message, making the constituency connection, telling a personal story and, of course, the value of meeting with staff.  And teaching them to say “I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you,” is helpful as well.

Sin #7 – Abandonment

Once your lobby day is over, your advocacy for the year isn’t finished. In fact, it’s just started. Be sure you’ve provided your advocates with specific ideas on how to work with the office on an ongoing basis.  This might include training them on how to attend a townhall meeting, conduct a district visit or connect via social media.

 

The New Tax Bill and its Implications: An Interview with Guy Sheetz

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

Guy Sheetz is the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer for the Futures Industry Association. He has many accomplishments, including helping in the association’s merger with Futures’ associations in Europe and Asia and refocusing the organization from a national body to a powerful global voice. Additionally, his work with the FIA Technology Services, a for-profit subsidiary, has saved the industry an estimated $200 million over the past seven years.

Having first worked in the for-profit world, he joined FIA eight years ago. Since that time, he has seen greater pressure put on finance professionals to make their nonprofits more transparent. Especially since data has become easier for the public to access. Sheetz recently discussed what nonprofit finance professionals face today.

“Managing a nonprofit, we have to have good controls, to ensure they are transparent,” Sheetz said. He cited the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act as a new concern for nonprofits. With this legislation comes uncertainty because it will be such a major change, though more so for donor-based organizations than (c)6 groups, such as FIA. Many analysts predict overall deductions to charitable nonprofits will be lower because of changes included in the law.

For donor-based organizations, Sheetz says, “(the answer) is transparency in how you’re benefiting your donors. The first thing to do is to make sure your in-house operations are as good as possible.” Still, with the new law affecting executive compensation and UBIT, Sheetz maintains, “this will be more complicated to arrange and measure internally,” with the need to have “more discussions with boards.”

According to an article by GKG Law published by Association TRENDS, the Tax Act potentially increases association taxes by creating a new code that imposes an excise tax on executive compensation. While this will increase the taxes of certain associations, the final version of the Tax Act eliminates the provision that would have extended penalties to organization’s exempt under sections 501(c)(5) and 501(c)(6).

As for UBIT, the Tax Act includes several changes that will increase the amount of association income that may be subject to tax as unrelated business income. However, the effect of the increase in the amount of taxable income may be partially offset by the Tax Act’s reduction in the corporate tax rate.

In this time of change, Sheetz’s relayed his advice to up-and-coming nonprofit financial professionals. First and foremost, keep your principles. “Having a good process, internal control, leadership team and board engaged with, always gets you ahead of the game.” Additionally, the beginning of the year is often a time for executive transition at the highest level. Sheetz advises incoming association CEOs, “take the time to understand the core metrics, finance status of where you are and spend time getting into the numbers. Make sure you outline what your expectations are for short-, medium- and long-term growth or development patterns within the organization, and work with the CFO to meet those objectives.”

 

The Lobbying Community’s Response to the State of the Union

Thursday, February 1st, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

According to Politico, many on K Street were disappointed that, “the speech did not expand much on the President’s 2017 joint address to Congress,” especially involving infrastructure. Stephen Martinko, Government Affairs Counselor at K&L Gates said, “the president set high expectations but was light on details…while the State of the Union was a strong signal that after more than a year of waiting, it’s now time for real work to begin on infrastructure.” On Tuesday night, Trump called for $1.5 trillion in funding for infrastructure, but the “trillion-dollar question” is how those projects will be funded. Lobbyists and Congress alike are especially concerned, given that, at first, President Trump previously called for a $1 trillion plan.

Some lobbyists are optimistic, such as Mike Ference, a partner at S-3 Public Affairs, who said that, “Trump recognized that ‘the path forward on legislation this year must be bipartisan [by] outlining his framework for an infrastructure package.’” However, others realize that one of the hurdles will be whether “the White House will be able to compromise and work with Democrats to get the votes they need to enact the legislation,” Lisa Kountoupes, President of Kountoupes Denham Carr & Reid said.

Some question that an infrastructure plan will happen at all. Squire Patton Boggs wrote a memo to its clients that said, “the political imperative that enabled the GOP to unify around tax reform last fall has given way to a familiar intraparty debate about what the party’s next priority should be…meanwhile, Congress continues to struggle…” on a multitude of issues.

Organizations who were particularly happy with the State of the Union included Apple, Toyota, Mazda, Chrysler and Staub Manufacturing Solutions, who all received recognition from the President. The National Association of Manufacturers quickly noted that Staub Manufacturing Solutions is a member. Mazda, on the other hand, believes they “didn’t do anything special” to get mentioned in the speech.

Tech Spending in 2017

Thursday, January 25th, 2018 by Allison Rosenstock

According to Bloomberg Politics, “Google outspent its tech rivals in lobbying in 2017, as Facebook Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and Apple Inc. set company records for the year, federal disclosures show.” The increase in tech lobbying has faced a fair amount of backlash, however, the tech companies are attempting to capitalize on “a tax overhaul and regulatory rollback in President Donald Trump’s first year in office.”

Although companies are upping their lobbying spending for financial gain, lawmakers continue to scrutinize “the companies over questions including Russia’s use of their platforms to try to influence the 2016 election, the disclosures show.” Facebook, Google, and Twitter all acknowledge that their users were exposed to Russian ads, fake news reports and “fraudulent social media posts.” The three companies testified in front of Congress in October, and have pledged to improve their “content screening techniques before the 2018 midterm elections.” During the fourth quarter of 2017, “Google also beat our all other companies, spending more than $4.6 million, although some trade groups and think tanks spent significantly more during the period.” Amazon spent $13 million in 2017, and more than $3.3 million in the fourth quarter. Amazon also faced criticism from President Trump because their owner, Jeff Bezos, also owns the Washington Post.

Another significant issue for internet tech companies in 2017 and 2018 is net neutrality. Google opposed the bill, whereas Comcast and AT&T lobbied in favor of the Federal Communications Commission’s rescinding of open internet rules. At the same time, AT&T was battling for its merger with Time Warner Inc. AT&T also fought for Trump’s tax bill and spent more than $3.6 million.

Tech companies also lobbied on immigration and taxes. “Apple spent more than $7 million during the year.”