Archive for the ‘Regulations’ Category

2014 Revolving Door Is Open For Business

Thursday, January 21st, 2016 by Matthew Barnes

After completing the mandatory “cooling off” period, members of the House who retired, resigned or lost re-election in 2014 are now officially able to lobby. According to House ethics rules, senior aides and former members of Congress are prohibited from lobbying their former colleagues for one year after leaving the Hill. Former senators are prohibited for two years after they leave the Hill. According to analysis from The Hill, “Roughly one-third of the former lawmakers in that group have gone on to work for companies, universities, trade associations or firms that lobby the federal government.”

During the “cooling off” period some former lawmakers have “refrained from speaking with former colleagues since leaving office, even about matters that did not pertain to business.” The Hill reports former Rep. Buck McKeon saying he “avoided even seeing them [other Members] because I didn’t even want the appearance” of impropriety.” However, other former members comply with the regulations, but still take an active role in advocacy. For example, former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) joined his son’s boutique lobby firm, Waxman Strategies, and has been actively working on advocating before the executive branch, which former lawmakers are not restricted from in any way.

In recent years a number of former Members of Congress have gravitated to non-lobbying roles after leaving the Hill. Former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has joined the investment bank Moelis & Co. as a vice chairman and managing director and Former Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.) returned to Nevada-based public relations firm R&R Resources, where he worked before running for office.  However, according to The Hill, “law and lobby shops remain the most common destination for former lawmakers. Former Reps. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah) landed at Squire Patton Boggs, which has a lobby shop led by former Sens. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and John Breaux (D-La.). The Louisiana-based shop the Picard Group hired former Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.), and Rep. Robert Andrews (D-N.J.) went to Dilworth Paxon.”

Tickets To The Game

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015 by Matthew Barnes

Ever since President George W. Bush signed the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA) into law in 2007, lobbyists have been banned from giving gifts to Members of Congress and their staffs. Moreover, every lobbyist and lobbying entity must now certify under penalty of perjury, twice yearly that she/he/it has read the House and Senate Ethics rules regarding gifts and travel and has not made or directed any gift to any member, officer or employee of the House or Senate. However, the gift rules do include 23 exceptions on the House side and 24 exceptions on the Senate side. One such exception is the exemption of public universities. The Wall Street Journal reports, “University lobbyists alone among Washington’s power players can provide lawmakers and aides tickets to collegiate sporting events.”

With college bowl season fast approaching, this exception is sure to be put to good use, providing universities an edge in the lobbying game and the value of having a member attend a game cannot be overstated. Bryson Morgan, a former congressional ethics investigator said, “A president’s box is a pretty effective place to make a pitch. Getting one-on-one time with a member of Congress is pretty hard. Yet if you give a member of Congress a ticket to a suite, you can get three to four hours of incredibly valuable time.”

According to the gift rules the lawmakers are not supposed to ask for tickets to university sporting events unless they are invited, and should avoid accepting them “repeatedly,” however, according to the Wall Street Journal’s report, this stipulation is often ignored. One such example from the report is featured below.

“‘So sorry for the late notice,’ an aide to Sen. Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) wrote to University of Florida officials on Oct. 15, 2012, a few days before the fourth-ranked Gators hosted the third-ranked University of South Carolina Gamecocks. ‘Would Bill and his son Bill Jr. be able to sit in the President’s Box for the game this weekend (and usual parking at President’s house)?’ Nelson sat in the presidential suite at least seven times between 2012 and 2014, records show. The senator’s spokesman said ‘accepting a college president’s invitation to about two sporting events a year is one way Sen. Nelson expresses his support of the states’ universities.”

Public universities have different policies for giving tickets to lawmakers.  The Wall Street Journal reports, “The University of Florida offers lawmakers blanket invitations to attend as many football games as they wish…The University of Alabama delivers two tickets to the offices of a half-dozen Alabama lawmakers before each game,” and the “Ohio State University doesn’t hand out free tickets, but lawmakers can buy tickets to sold-out games through its lobbying office.”

No matter what how the university takes advantage of this exemption, it clearly provides a unique tool for public university lobbyists to gain access to lawmakers.

For more information on the House and Senate’s ethics rules for gifts and travel check out’s “The Lobbying Compliance Handbook” or tune in to the “LD-203 Filing Boot Camp: Compliance Training & Filing Preparation” webinar on January 19, 2016.

Registration Crackdown

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014 by Vbhotla

AGGRESSIVE CRACKDOWNS ON Lobbying Disclosure Act violations are rarely seen, but last week The Hill, in what it called a “bombshell,” reported that at the end of its most recent report, the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) “voted to refer one entity to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia for failure to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.”

This is particularly noteworthy because as Covington & Burling’s Robert Kelner notes in the National Law Review, unregistered lobbyists have rarely, if ever, been pursued by the OCE or the Department of Justice. Kelner attributes the lack of enforcement to illegal lobbying being relatively low on the DOJ’s list of priorities, as well as a lack of media attention to LDA violations.

However, as we wrote in this space back in March, that may be changing. Since 2010, we’ve seen an uptick in enforcement for failure to file quarterly lobbying disclosures and for FARA violations. Between 1995 and 2010, only three lawsuits filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office against lobbyists were settled, but since 2010, at least five suits have been filed related to HLOGA and FARA violations. With the revelations in OCE’s latest report, are we beginning to see the kind of enforcement that these laws originally intended?

With the lobbying industry increasingly operating underground, it seems likely that last week’s bombshell won’t be the last incident of illegal unregistered lobbying, but only time will tell if the OCE has more investigations underway or if this is an isolated incident.


State vs. Federal Lobbying

Friday, April 1st, 2011 by Brittany

Lobbying Outside Washington:
Mastering the Differences in State and Federal Compliance
April 26, 2011  2:00-3:30 pm EST
Audioconference- Dial-in from anywhere!

When it comes to lobbying and campaign finance, rules are often more stringent at the state level than at the federal level. Plus, rules for specific activities differ not only from federal to state, but from state to state – and they keep changing rapidly. Learn how to prevent violations before they occur…

Register for Lobbying Outside Washington: Mastering the Differences in State and Federal Compliance.  In this vital new audioconference, top state and local lobbying experts reveal “outside Washington” pitfalls. Whether you are new to lobbying or political activities at the state level, or are expanding into multiple states, this practical guidance helps you empower every member of your team to promote your cause without triggering compliance issues or negative publicity.

 Listen in to learn hcg diet how to navigate state campaign and lobbying laws, including how to:

  • Avoid common – but costly – mistakes at the state level
  • Address the regulations that trigger the majority of concerns
  • Understand state-to-state differences in filing of activity reports
  • Know how differing federal and state definitions of “lobbying” and “political activities” affect compliance
  • Ensure compliance when lobbying in multiple states
  • Handle data and records to help in the event of an audit
  • Correctly classify activities as grassroots lobbying or goodwill building – and how to report them correctly at the state and/or federal level
  • Register and report spending/income for lobbying organizations vs. individual lobbyists and even clients
  • Comply with the state restrictions on gift and campaign contributions that don’t apply at the federal level Minimize the consequences of violating state rules
  • Learn about new and potential state lobbying & ethics law changes

 Don’t wait, register today!

BREAKING: LDA Amendment Passes House

Thursday, July 29th, 2010 by Vbhotla

The House has amended and passed Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy’s bill, H.R. 5751. Originally titled “The Fee on Lobbyists Act,” the bill is now titled “Lobbying Disclosure Enhancement Act.”

The bill as now amended is significantly different than the original legislation. It does three things:

1. Establishes an “Enforcement Task Force” for purposes of “investigating and prosecuting” cases referred under the LDA to the DOJ.

2. Replaces the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia with the Attorney General for purposes of referral and enforcement.

3. Inserts the language “Section 6(b)(1) of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (2 U.S.C. 1605(b)(1)) is amended by striking `by case’ and all that follows through `public record’ and inserting `by case and name of the individual lobbyists or lobbying firms involved, any sentences imposed’.”

The bill passed the House by voice vote on Wednesday.

The language about fee structures and increased enforcement is not in the final legislation.

(h/t Eric Brown at Political Activity Law.)

Lobbying Fees Considered in House

Monday, July 26th, 2010 by Vbhotla

A bill introduced in the House Judiciary Committee would impose fees on lobbyists, based on their number of clients.

Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Ohio) introduced H.R. 5751, the “Fee on Lobbyists Act,” in response to what she views as improper influence by financial services lobbyists during the financial services debate. 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.”

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.”

The fee would be broken down to be $25 per registration, per chamber. So the total fee would be $50 per registration (client). The same payment would be made yearly, upon filing the first quarter’s LD-2 report. (Provision is made for the eventuality that a registration and a first-quarter LD-2 report will coincide, with a fee waiver for that problem.)

Failure to file 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 (and normal fees) will be used to conduct audits and quality control of filings. Other measures within the bill include: clean up of inconsistencies between the House and Senate databases, and mandated public disclosure of late or incorrect filers (name would be removed from the list following proper filing and payment of the fee).

The bill, introduced on July 15, is currently in 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.

The text of H.R. 5751 is available here at THOMAS. Rep. Kilroy’s press release is here: “Kilroy Works to Bring Sunshine to Washington’s Darkest Corners.”

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.

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.

Skilling, Black, Weyhrauch, and You

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 by Vbhotla

On June 24, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal honest services fraud statute only covers bribery and kickback schemes. What does this mean for lobbyists? Covington & Burling has the (qualified) answer:

“With respect to federal officials and federal lobbyists, Skilling essentially renders the honest services fraud statute co-extensive with existing bribery and kickback statutes, meaning that the Government will need to prove that gifts, political contributions, or other things of value were provided to federal officials as a quid pro quo for specific official acts.” (From Covington & Burling’s Client Alert)

According to the political law team over at Covington, this is a more narrow interpretation of the statute than has recently been used by prosecutors.

But the Blog of Legal Times reports that the Department of Justice isn’t changing their approach to prosecuting Abramoff associate Kevin Ring, who was mis-tried in the fall and re-scheduled for trial this summer.  Ring’s prosecution is for a bribery scheme. The blog reports that: “At a hearing today in Washington federal district court, Public Integrity Section trial attorney Peter Koski said the high court’s June 24 ruling in Skilling v. United States has “no impact whatsoever” on the prosecution of Ring.” (Read the full story on Ring’s trial here).

SEC rules on Pay to Play

Friday, July 2nd, 2010 by Vbhotla

Eric Brown at Political Activity Law reports on big pay to play news from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to a press release from the SEC – “The Securities and Exchange Commission today voted unanimously to approve new rules to significantly curtail the corrupting influence of “pay to play” practices by investment advisers.”

The decision is in three main parts:

  • 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.

Watch SEC Chairman Mary L. Schapiro’s discussion of the new prohibition here.

The rules come into effect 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register.

Don’t forget to file: LD-203 reporting requirements stressed

Monday, June 21st, 2010 by Vbhotla

All lobbyists must file a report on their political contributions, the Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate stressed in their semi-annual guidance for lobbyists.  Two changes were made in this cycle to the guidance (first released after HLOGA was implemented) – a modification of language to stress the importance of filing the LD-203, and a clarification of the requirement for disclosing former positions in the government.

In Section 6 of the guidance, the Clerk of the House clarified that “once a filer has met the previously described statutory requirement for listing a new lobbyists’ previous covered position(s), then the filer does not have to list those positions again for subsequent reports concerning the same client.” A different client for the same lobbyist would require another listing of the lobbyist’s previous covered positions. In other words, once filed on an LD-1, the covered positions do not need to be disclosed on subsequent LD-2s for the same firm/client relationship.

Section 7 of the guidance stresses that “sole proprietors and small lobbying firms are reminded that two reports are required: one filed by the registrant and one filed by the listed lobbyist (even if the lobbyist is the registrant and vice versa).”

The Clerk and Secretary work to implement changes to the non-legally binding LDA guidance issued every six months. Lobbyists and others with interest in the LDA may submit comments to the House Clerk.  This June 15 guidance supersedes all previous versions (the guidance is typically released every 6 months).

View the guidance online at

Updated LDA Guidance Available

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 by Vbhotla

The House of the Clerk released their latest LDA Guidance yesterday.

There were a couple of changes, which were highlighted in Section 2 of the Guidance.

  • Section 6 – reminder that filers must list a new lobbyist’s previous covered executive or legislative branch positions (held within 20 years of their date of filing). NEW: once the registrant has listed an applicable lobbyist’s covered positions, the registrant does not have to list them again on filings for the same client. However, when listing the lobbyist on a new registration for a different client, the positions must be listed again.
  • Section 7: Stresses that both registrants (the firm or sole proprietor listing lobbying income) AND the individual lobbyist listed on the quarterly LD-2 reports must file the LD-203. Although ONLY the registrant must file the LD-1/LD-2, both must file the LD-203 (Semi-annual reporting of defined political contributions). This is regardless of whether or not the individual lobbyist makes a contribution. He or she must still file an LD-203 report, stating “no contributions” and certifying his or her compliance with the House and Senate gift rules. This is not a change, but a reminder from the Clerk.

Read the PDF of the new guidance here.

Check out our Lobbying Compliance Handbook for practical compliance tips.

ALL to host training session on LDA, HLOGA, FARA

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010 by Brittany

When: June 7, 2010
Where: Hall of States, Washington DC (teleconference available)
LCP Credits: 1 (required for completion of certificate program)
Register online:

Required as part of the Lobbyist Certificate Program (LCP), this core session arms you with the practical know-how to comply with today’s lobbying regulations and keep the media and opponents from using your filings and disclosures against you.

From bundling regulations (which recently tripped up several PACs), to gifts, events and communications, you will learn how to avoid pitfalls in registering and filing the LD-1 form, as well as what information to provide on the quarterly LD-2 and semiannual LD-203 reports. You’ll also learn how FARA regulations apply to lobbying on behalf of foreign government and political entities.

New travel rules for the House

Monday, May 24th, 2010 by Vbhotla
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tightened up travel requirements for House members and staffers last week, after reports surfaced of some Representatives enjoying perks on taxpayer funded delegation travel.

The House has had rules governing travel in place since the 1970s, but the Wall Street Journal recently reported that some Representatives had enjoyed extensive perks on the taxpayer dime while traveling overseas, including purchasing alcohol, gifts, and items for family members, or pocketing leftover per diems.

The main changes to the rules include a provision forbidding lawmakers on official travel from flying business class on trips shorter than 14 hours, and requiring them to return any unused travel funds to the Treasury. Members and staffers travelling on official business are also prohibited from using funds for personal reasons. Certain aides are also now prohibited from accompanying members on overseas junkets. Attempts at making Congressional delegations bipartisan are also now required to be documented.

Members’ official travel (using government funds) is restricted to committee delegations. However, Members are also able to travel on private trips with approval; such trips fall under a strict, highly regulated approval and guidance structure. Speaker Pelosi has the authority to make changes to the travel rules unilaterally.

The rules from Speaker Pelosi can be found here, and Roll Call’s coverage of the new rules is here.

(This post from our free bi-weekly Government Relations Alert. Sign up to receive your copy here!)

Travel and Events Training Session this Thursday

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 by Brittany

Join Ki P. Hong of Skadden Arps – one of the nation’s leading legal authorities on HLOGA – as he explains exactly how travel and event requirements have changed since 2007, including how to comply with tough certification rules that apply even to employees not usually covered by lobbying law (including federal contractors).

Click here for complete conference details and to register online.