Celebrity Lobbyist Alert: Tom Morello

May 4th, 2011 by Autumn

Rage Against the Machine’s lead guitarist is getting into labor advocacy with the release of a solo CD, “Union Town,” an eight song debut effort, which includes three original tracks.  Morello, who has been active in pro-labor events across the nation, drew inspiration from the CD from the recent union protests in Wisconsin, and the album’s proceeds will benefit the America Votes Labor Unity Fund.

TomMorello performs at a pro-labor rally in L.A. in March (image from Flickr).

In an interview with Politico‘s Chris Frates, Morello said that he hopes the CD will help spark a debate and fuel the labor movement, “steel the backbone of an emerging labor movement with the kind of teeth that can really stand up to working class rights in this country.”

He hopes that the recent rallies in Madison and across the country will lead to a resurgence in activity around the issue.  “My hope is to encourage the labor movement to not become diluted by politics as usual. This is a chance to not just stop some bad legislation but to really Buy Cialis put some wind in the sails of progressive working class issues and to take back the populist narrative from the misappropriation by the tea party,” he said.

Morello, a Harvad grad who studied political science and worked on the Hill for a short period of time, once considered a career in politics.  He told Frates this anecdote about the end of his political ambitions:

“The reason why I chose a career in music instead of politics, I’ll tell you a quick story that illuminates that. I was working for a senator and one day this woman called up and she had a complaint that there were Mexicans moving into her neighborhood. And I, thinking I was standing up for all the things that Sen. (Alan) Cranston stood for, I said, ‘Ma’am you’re a racist and you can go to hell.’ And the next two weeks I got yelled at by everybody up and down the political food chain. And it was crystal clear to me at that moment if I couldn’t tell a racist to go to hell, that I was in the wrong business.”

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Spring Cleaning the LD-2: Reporting Issues

May 4th, 2011 by Brittany

HLOGA did not change the manner in which lobbyists disclose the issues and matters for which they are retained to lobby.  According to the LDA Guidance, for these purposes a lobbyist must disclose:

  • The issues on which the lobbying activities will be focused, using the issue codes established by the House and Senate
  • A brief description of the legislation, policy, or other information about the lobbying issue
  • Where the lobbying activities will be focused: House of Representatives, Senate, or a particular federal agency or office
  • The identity of each lobbyist employee engaged in the lobbying activities described above

It is not sufficient to just list a bill number as the description of the lobbying issue area. The instructions for preparation of the LD-1 provide:

SPECIFIC LOBBYING ISSUES: Identify the client’s specific issues that have been addressed (as of the date of the registration) or are likely to be addressed in lobbying activities. Include, for example, specific bills before Congress or specific executive branch actions.

BE SPECIFIC, but brief. Bill numbers alone do not satisfy the requirements for reporting on this line and restatement of the general issue code is insufficient. Use the following format to describe legislation: Bill number, bill title, and description of the specific section(s) of interest, i.e.:

“H.R. 3610, Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 1996, Title 2, all provisions relating to environmental restoration.”

For specific issues other than legislation, provide detailed descriptions of lobbying efforts. Do not leave line blank. No additional space is available, so please abbreviate and enter the information in paragraph format to maximize space.

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

Alert: Lobbyists.info has new spring enhancements!

April 27th, 2011 by Autumn

Legislative Search and Detailed Lobbying Financials Added to Washington Representatives Online

Lobbyists.info is pleased to announce a major expansion to its Washington Representatives Online database of federal lobbying contacts. In particular, two major enhancements have taken place this week: the addition of bill data and detailed breakouts of how much money is being paid and received for lobbying services as they relate to specific firm/client relationships.

Joel Poznansky, President of Columbia Books & Information Services, Lobbyists.info’s parent company, remarked, “For over 40 years the print edition of Washington Representatives has served as the Bible of the legislative and political community. Just a few years ago, the addition of detailed bill data and lobbying financials would not have been possible. Now, as we expand beyond the realm of print, we are incredibly pleased to offer this wealth of information to the lobbying community online.”

BILL SEARCH & LEGISLATIVE RELATIONSHIP LINKS UNCOVERED: Now, detailed information on specific pieces of legislation has been added, allowing users to identify the exact bills that a lobbyist is working on and what other organizations and individuals are tied to the same legislation.  An easy bill search has also been added allowing you to quickly look up bills by name or number. This revolutionary addition opens an entirely new avenue for tracking legislative influence.

FOLLOW THE MONEY: Users can now identify money spent to lobby on specific legislative issues and income and spending breakdowns by firm/client relationship.

This all-in-one tool provides endless new opportunities for lobbyists and government relations professionals.  Users can track their competition to see who they are working with, how much they are being paid and what specific bills they are working on. Additionally, like-minded advocates can now quickly and easily identify potential coalition partners.

Lobbyists.info is the number one resource for information on government relations and lobbying relationships.  In addition to the complete federal lobbying and congressional databases it also houses the Lobbying Ethics & Compliance Center, which provides information on the latest rules and regulations on lobbying ethics and procedure.
For more information or to preview this all-in-one lobbying tool visit www.lobbyists.info.

IMBA to Host Biking Outing

April 22nd, 2011 by Autumn

The International Mountain Bicycling Association is hosting a biking adventure through Laurel Hill trails near Occoquan Regional Park to showcase sustainable trail construction principles.  The outing, which invites bikers of all experience and skill levels, will be held one week from today, April 29, though the IMBA is requesting that attendees RSVP today.

The organization will provide bikes and other equipment to those who want smokelessinfusionsoftcom electronic cigarettes to join the fun but are underequipped, and will provide shuttles from the Franconia-Springfield Metro station, so there is no excuse not to join fellow Washington-area professionals for an exciting evening of biking, “networking, food, and merriment,” as the flyer says.

For more information, you may visit the IMBA site or contact Government Affairs Coordinator Kristy Kibler at 863-370-2578 or via email at kristy@imba.com

NEW REPORT: The Lobbying Terminations Report

April 21st, 2011 by Brittany

Every 10 minutes a lobbyist enters into a new relationship with a client … or has an existing relationship terminated.

Now, the all-new Lobbying Terminations Report gives you quick access to the full list of recent lobbying terminations by issue. Choose the three legislative issues you’d like a terminations list for and we’ll create a custom report just for you!

Each report includes a list terminations by:

  • Issue breakout
  • Firm and client lobbying relationships
  • Date of termination

This is the perfect tool for business developement in the lobbying world and the report is customized specifically to your interests!

Once you place your order, an editor will contact you to get the list of issues you’d like researched for your custom lobbying terminations report. Order yours today!

Campaign Finance Compliance

April 21st, 2011 by Autumn

Sarah Palin this week launched Sarah Pac‘s new website, an indication that she may be seriously considering a run for the GOP candidacy for president in 2012.  While the former vice presidential candidate does have quite a following, she does not have one key thing she needs to begin organizing for a 2012 election: contact info for these supporters.  The page also serves as a landing ground for would-be donors to contribute to Sarah Palin’s campaign efforts, stating that Sarah PAC can accept up to $5,000 annually from individuals.  According to FEC guidance, this is still considered a solicitation, despite the fact that the PAC is not directly asking for contributions.

The bundling rules for lobbyist contributions to PACs (including leadership PACs, of which Sarah PAC is one) state that the PAC must reveal the name of lobbyists who bundle two or more contributions totaling more than $16,000 during a reporting period.  While it does not impose any specific obligation on the lobbyist, it is important to note that the PACs may expect lobbyists who bundle contributions to cooperate with their efforts to report contributions.

Forwarded contributions are defined as any contribution delivered physically or electronically to the candidate by the lobbyist (or non-lobbyist employee of a registered lobbying entity).  Credited contributions are less concrete, and presuppose that committees know who is raising funds for the committee.  Contributions must be credited and received by the campaign committee to be subject to disclosure.  Written records, designated titles, event invitations, and mementos can all determine “credit,” and they do not have to be documented to be applied.

Off the Hill: Rep. Dennis Kucinich

April 20th, 2011 by Autumn

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), a former mayor who was, when he was elected in 1077 at the age of 31 to lead Cleveland, the youngest person ever elected to lead a major city, is now in his 8th Congressional term.  In addition to Viagra his service on the Education and Workforce  Committee and the Subcommittees on Health Employment Labor and Pensions, Workforce Protections, and Regulatory Affairs Stimulus Oversight and Government Spending, and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Kucinich is also, as it turns out, a ventriloquist.

Tuesday Ethics Tip: The Commemorative Hat Edition

April 19th, 2011 by Autumn

It’s a great time of year: the NBA and NHL are both officially in playoff season!  And while Washington basketball aficionados may have little to cheer for (let’s be honest, Wizards fans are used to it), Caps fans can revel in the fact that despite the game one loss, the 2nd Seed Capitals may have a legitimate chance at the Stanley Cup (assuming they can get it together and make it out of the first round).

Previous Lobby Blog posts have portrayed certain members of Congress as big sports fans.  But if you’re hoping to cozy up to hockey fans Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.),  Reps. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.)—who is often touted the biggest hockey fan in Congress, Brian Higgins (D-N.Y.), Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.), Pat Meehan (D-Penn.), or basketball guys House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and Reps. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) and Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), you may want to re-visit the gift rules.

Except Braley, each of these Congressmen has a home state team in either the NBA Playoffs, the NHL Playoffs, or both (while Maryland doesn’t have a hockey team, the Caps’ broadcast ratings in Maryland, and the number of Maryland fans is high for the neighboring district team, so we’ll let Hoyer slide by claiming Caps fan constituency).

It is okay to give the following gifts to any of these Congressmen (or others) without fear of reproach:

  • A baseball cap with the logo of the Congressman’s favorite team – a baseball cap is considered of nominal value, and is therefore an acceptable gift.  T-shirts are also acceptable, even if the actual value of the t-shirt or baseball cap exceeds $10, these items are considered “gifts under $10.”
  • “2011 Championship season” commemorative team books – books, publications, and software are permitted as long as they are sent to the Member’s office, do not require specialized reporting service, and are not sent for the Member’s unrestricted use.   The Member should display the book in the office.   These are not permissible under the home state exemption, unless the books are produced within the Member’s state (not likely).

Obviously, if there is a history of personal friendship around being lifelong Chicago Bulls fans, gifts are unrestricted under the personal friendship exemption, as long as the cost of the gift is not reimbursed by the employer.

We would steer clear of giving tickets to any games to Members or spouses, unless the personal friendship or Relative exemptions apply.

April Young Lobbyist Network Happy Hour

April 13th, 2011 by Brittany

The April Young Lobbyist Network (YLN) happy hour will be at Vapiano in Penn Quarter from 5:30 – 7 pm on April 21st. This is a great opportunity to meet other young professionals working in government relations! Friends and new contacts are welcome Cialis Online. For more information on YLN visit our Facebook page or the American League of Lobbyists website at www.ALLDC.org.

Thursday, April 21 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
@ Vapiano
623 H Street Northwest
Washington D.C. 20001
(202) 621-7636
Closest Metro: Chinatown

Tax Issues in Advocacy

April 13th, 2011 by Brittany

Differences Between Lobbying and Advocacy

 There is much confusion in the government relations community about the differences between “advocacy” and “lobbying.”  This is in part because the terms are used one way in the legal and tax context by the IRS (as applied to non-profit organizations) and another in the practical development of advocacy networks.  Following is an overview of these differences:

 2.2.1. Legal / Tax Differences

  •  “Advocacy” is often seen as arguing for a cause without referring to a specific piece of legislation.  This definition is important to any organization structured as a private foundation because they are, for all intents and purposes, restricted from direct lobbying but may undertake “policy education” or “advocacy.”
  • “Grassroots Lobbying” is defined by the I.R.S. more specifically as encompassing the activities that an organization undertakes to ask the public (not members) to support or oppose legislation. 
  • “Lobbying” or “Direct Lobbying” is defined by the I.R.S. as encompassing the activities that an organization undertakes to communicate its position on legislative proposals directly to elected and executive branch officials and staff.  This includes communications an organization sends to its own members asking them to communicate with an elected official about legislation.

Nonprofits are limited in both the amount of grassroots lobbying and direct lobbying they may carry out and still maintain their exempt status.  The rather vague term “substantial” (as in whether an organization’s lobbying work constitutes a “substantial” part of its activities) has led many organizations to seek further clarification. 

The 1976 Lobbying Law provided this clarification.  Non-profits that elect to come under this law (by filing a Section 501 h form) have Tramadol Online very specific monetary limits on their lobbying-related expenditures, as follows:

1976 Lobbying Law Limits

Annual Expenditures Direct Lobbying Ceiling Grassroots Lobbying Ceiling
Up to $500,000 20% of expenditures 25% of the direct lobbying costs
$500,001 to $1 million $100,000 + 15% over $500K $25,000 + 3.75% over $500K
$1 million to $1.5 million $175,000 + 10% over $1million $43,750 + 2.5% over $1 million
$1.5 million to $17 million $225,000 + 5% over $1.5 million $56,250 + 1.25% over $1.5 million
Over $17 million $1 million $250,000

Note that these limits are based on actual monetary expenditures.  The advocacy activities of volunteers do not count toward these expenditures, although any funds the organization spends to solicit action would.

In Practice Definitions

Standard government relations practice defines these terms in slightly different ways.  These are the definitions that will be utilized in this manual:

  • Advocacy:  The act of pleading or arguing for a cause, or more specifically for or against a piece of legislation, through the use of grassroots, grasstops or coalition networks.  These networks may be comprised of members of the organization itself or the general public.
  • Lobbying:  Communications with elected officials and others conducted on behalf of an organization by professional staff or directors of the organization.

Note, however, that because the question of what constitutes lobbying (whether direct or grassroots) is so important to the functioning of nonprofit organizations, care is taken throughout this manual to highlight when an organization needs to be aware of the potential tax ramifications of a particular activity or advocacy network structure.

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

Chamber of Commerce, Federal Employees Breathe Sigh of Relief

April 11th, 2011 by Autumn

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce joins the ranks of the many Federal employees this morning thrilled over the averted government shutdown. Chamber president Thomas Donohue said the shutdown would have been “a pain in the neck” and would have stalled the already-reeling economy.

Donohue and his colleagues remain concerned about discussions around the debt ceiling, which the chamber argues must be raised to prevent stalled recovery hgh legal substitute and promote further economic growth. Chamber officials are among the scores of lobbyists for whom business may have improved with news of the pending shutdown.  The National Treasury Employees Union, for example, was busy trying to guarantee retroactive pay for any employees furloughed, and many other groups were busy pleading the case for funding, as budget slashing continued in the process to negotiate a continuing resolution.

No moves being made at the FEC

April 11th, 2011 by Autumn

President Obama will have the opportunity to significantly skew the FEC when, at the end of this month, five of the six FEC commissioners’ terms will expire, but there is speculation that these posts will not be easily filled.

At this time, there are no nominations before the Senate for either the three commissioners whose terms have already expired or the two whose terms end at the end of the month, much to the chagrin of campaign finance reform advocates.  The FEC has still yet to write policies to enforce the rulings from last spring’s Citizens United decision, which could significantly impact the re-election campaigns and fundraising efforts of congressional leadership and the president himself.

It’s a…..Plutocracy? Really?

April 6th, 2011 by Autumn

There was an interesting article on Al Jezeera this week blasting the US government as being a plutocracy.  The author asserts that American democracy has been sold to the highest bidders.  This is nothing new, but the interesting part is an email from a Capitol Hill staffer who was, apparently irritated by being swayed by outside interests (aka lobbyists).

Considering a surveyed, this assertion — and, in particular, the fact that the email is from a Hill aide — is ludicrous.

See the full text of the letter, as printed in Al Jazeera:

Perhaps the best line in the entire article was a quote from PBS commentator and former top  LBJ aide Bill Moyers:

“Why isn’t government working for them? Because it has been bought off. It is as simple as that. And until we get clean money we are not going to get clean elections, and until we get clean elections, you can kiss goodbye government of, by, and for the people. Welcome to the plutocracy. ”

It’s almost so ridiculous it’s convincing.

Happy Hump Day!

IRS Definitions of Lobbying

April 6th, 2011 by Brittany

When Congress enacted the LDA in 1995, it included a provision that lobbying expenses can NOT be deducted by for-profit companies and/or individuals as “ordinary and necessary business expenses,” as that term is defined in the tax code. Not-for-profit organizations must also track their lobbying expenditures and disclose such expenses on their Form 990 tax returns for purposes of generating information related to the “proxy tax.” Because of the tax issues related to tracking and reporting lobbying expenditures, the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) has promulgated regulations and issued numerous pamphlets and circulars explaining the IRC definitions and interpretations of the tax code provisions related to lobbying expenditures.

The LDA allows companies, associations and nonprofit organizations to keep one set of books and records, rather than two. Therefore, each entity reporting lobbying expenditures (not income) is permitted to choose whether to track its lobbying activities and, hence, its expenditures in accordance with the IRC or the LDA. HLOGA made no changes to this aspect of the LDA.

The option of using the IRC definitions is not available to lobbying consultants, lobbying firms or individual lobbyists, because those individuals and entities report income under the LDA rather than expenditures. 

The LD-2 reporting form directs a filer reporting its lobbying expenditures to indicate which method it is using to calculate its lobbying activities and costs: 

  • Method A – The LDA definitions
  • Method B vigrx plus price –  Section 6033(b)(8) of the IRC – charitable organizations making the 501(h) election for lobbying activities
  • Method C –  Section 162(e) of the IRC – for profit entities, trade associations, labor unions and other not-for-profit entities

Key Points to Remember in Choosing a Reporting Method

There are several important principles to bear in mind regarding the choice of the IRC (rather than the LDA) method.

  • Whatever method is chosen, it must be used for all reports during the same calendar year.
  • Regardless of whether Method B or C is the chosen reporting method, the tracking and definitional issues are identical.

It is not permissible for a registrant making the IRC election for calculating its lobbying expenditures to change reporting methods during a reporting (calendar) year. Once the election is made regarding the definition for calculating and tracking lobbying expenditures for LDA reporting purposes, the election should be reflected on the first quarterly report filed in April and followed for the remainder of the calendar year.

  • Whatever method is chosen, it must be used consistently for all purposes.

The definitions of the method chosen must be used for all purposes related to LDA reporting. In other words, it is NOT permissible for a registrant to mix-and-match definitions from the IRC and the LDA when tracking, calculating and reporting lobbying expenditures.

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

Congressional March Madness

April 1st, 2011 by Autumn

As March Madness winds down and we are left with only four teams standing, we took a look at Roll Call‘s “Men’s March Madness in the House” bracket, which matches each school in the tournament with its House representative, to see which Congressmen (and issues) are coming out on top.

Rep. Ben Chandler (D-Ky.) fought his way out of the East.  Not only is Chandler the representative for the University of Kentucky’s district, he also obtained his B.A. and J.D. from the school (in 1983 and 1986, respectively).  Positioned on the House Select Committee on Intelligence and the Committee on Foreign Affairs, he is perched to address his concerns over national security and the fight against terrorism and reducing forces in Iraq and increasing economic development to maintain stability in Afghanistan.  He will also influence further U.S. action in Libya and throughout the ever-crumbling middle East.  The fourth term representative of Kentucky’s sixth district will be paired with….

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) in the playoff game to decide who will advance to the title game.  Though Kentucky is a two-point favorite over U-Conn to win Saturday, Courtney, who graduated from the university’s law school in 1978, may not be ready to concede victory after only three congressional terms.  Expect a tough fight from the school whose representative has been a strong advocate for healthcare, veterans, and small businesses.

In a time that is equally troubled by foreign conflict and a domestic economy that we desperately want to peg as recovering, it will be interesting to see which represented issue, er school, advances to the next round (of priority).

The two underdogs in the competition, VCU semenax in australia and Butler, are represented by Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.).  Scott, now in his 10th term, is a strong proponent of education and youth programs.  He is the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security and sits on the Subcommittee on the Constitution (both under the Committee of the Judiciary), and is a member of the Committee on Education and the Workforce.  Education issues have been pushed out of the forefront of most conversations recently, apparent only in President Obama’s discussion of the budget (particularly, his desire to increase education funding while appropriators continue to push for cuts across the board, including to education spending).

Just as Scott’s legislative agenda is the underdog on the congressional slate, so is the school he represents, with Butler afforded a 2.5 point advantage on the books.  However, expect a fight out of VCU (and Scott) as they prepare to go up against Butler, who has won each of its tournament games with a close margin.   Butler has been great at rallying from behind (see Southeast regionals), and pulling out the win in the end.  Carson, whose committee assignments are all related to financial matters — with seats on the Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprise and the Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade — will face a similar come-from-behind fight in Congress as he battles against budget-slashing zealots in the House.  Even if he beats out Scott to advance to the title game, he (like Butler) is not favored to win a toe-to-toe stand down against House Republicans.

But you never know.  That is, after all, the beauty of March Madness.