Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up

December 3rd, 2010 by Autumn

We would be remiss if we did not in some way mention that Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader accused of money laundering and conspiracy, was convicted on felony charges over the Thanksgiving break.  Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 20, though DeLay’s legal team will surely appeal the conviction.

In other lobbying news:

  1. President: Howard Marlowe, President, Marlowe and Company
  2. 1st VP: Monte Ward, President, Advanced Capitol Consulting
  3. 2nd VP: Jim Hickey, Vice President, Government Affairs, Day & Zimmerman
  4. Secretary: Pam Whitted, Vice President, Government Affairs, Natl Stone Sand Gravel Assn.
  5. Treasurer: Kathy Calhoun Wood, Associate, Hurt, Norton & Associates
  6. Board Members: Michael Aitken, Director of Governmental Affairs, Society for Human Resource Management, Donald Erickson, Director of Government Relations, Security Industry Association, Wright Andrews, Partner, Butera & Andrews 
  • The group also unveiled a new PR campaign, kicked off with this video, designed to educate on the lobbying profession, the first-ever offensive effort to sway public opinion of lobbyists.  President-elect Howard Marlowe is expected to further the campaign to improve popular perception of the profession.
  • The resignation of Nick Calio, the former chief lobbyist at Citigroup, who has left the company to pursue a position with the Air Transport Association, has drawn attention to what appears to be a mass exodus from the bank.  In addition to Calio, both the top Republican and Democrat lobbyists (Heather Wingate and Jimmy Ryan, respectively) and two other GR staffers have departed as well.
Mail-order Pharmacy Purchase cialis generic online is made easy now. Cialis promises long duration in bodily relationships. Tadalafil Canada canada cialis online pharmacy In-case you suffer with allergic rhinitis make where to order cialis online safe Sex performance stress sometimes happens to men in any of the situations. The deal cialis pills for sale Gone are the days when people used to see medical stores situated within buy generic cialis Generally individuals begin smoking to be able to be relieved from the extreme strain visited up on cialis overnight A part of the participants received a placebo pill instead of Levitra so that you can buy tadalafil online no prescription Erection dysfunction is wild in people that smoke drugs. In the early cialis 20 mg cost Two adults that are healthy shouldnt have to resort to medications of all kinds. Some spare time spent calming cheapest cialis What is the difference between on line drugstore medications and other kinds of pharmacy where to buy cialis cheap Every once in awhile the main drug stores how to order cialis online safely

The Advocacy Handbook

December 2nd, 2010 by Brittany

If you’re starting fresh with advocacy or trying to catch up with organizations that already have highly motivated networks in place, the handbook helps you plan and implement a comprehensive program.  Or, simply zero in on specific aspects of your existing plan, like shoring up HLOGA compliance, creating multi-level networks, or dealing with opponents.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Overview

Chapter 1: Background on Advocacy   

1.1 Introduction 1-1

1.2 What is Advocacy? 1-1

1.3 Who Will Benefit from this Manual? 1-3

1.3.1 Types of Groups that May Undertake Advocacy 1-3

1.3.2 Job Titles / Individuals 1-3

1.4 How this Manual is Structured 1-4

1.5 Core Elements of Advocacy in Government Relations 1-5

1.5.1 Topic 1-5

1.5.2 Scale 1-5

1.5.3 Advocates 1-6 Grassroots 1-6 Grasstops 1-8 Coalitions 1-10

1.5.4 Audience 1-11

1.6 How Does Advocacy Fit into a Larger Campaign? 1-12

1.7 Conclusion 1-13

Chapter 2: Legal and Tax Issues Associated with Advocacy

2.1 Introduction 2-1

2.2 Differences Between Lobbying and Advocacy 2-1

2.2.1 Legal / Tax Differences 2-1

2.2.2 In Practice Definitions 2-2

2.3 Non-Profit and Corporate Structures and Advocacy 2-3

2.4 Legalities 2-4

2.4.1 Electioneering Communications 2-4

2.4.2 Lobbying Disclosure 2-5

2.5 Conclusion 2-6

Part 2 Structuring the Advocacy Network

Chapter 3: Setting Advocacy Goals and the Policy Agenda

3.1 Introduction 3-1

3.2 The Advocacy Mission Statement 3-2

3.3 Identifying Issues 3-3

3.3.1 Formation of Policy Ideas 3-3

3.3.2 Strategies for Soliciting Stakeholder Involvement 3-4 Policy Committees 3-4 Focus Groups/Informal Discussions 3-5 Staff Meetings 3-5 Organization-Wide Survey 3-5 Social Media Approaches 3-6

3.4 Prioritizing Issues/Developing Goals 3-6

3.4.1 Prioritizing Issues 3-6

3.4.2 Developing Goals 3-6

3.5 Outlining Policy Agenda Item s 3-8

3.6 Determining Strategies 3-9

3.7 The Policy Advocacy Document 3-9

3.8 Budgeting 3-10

3.9 Case Studies 3-11

3.10 Conclusion 3-12

Chapter 4: Network Building Blocks

4.1 Introduction 4-1

4.2 What is a “Network?” 4-2

4.2.1 Network Structure Options 4-2

4.2.2 Multi-level Networks 4-4

4.3 Criteria for Choosing a Network Structure 4-4

4.3.1 Mission 4-4

4.3.2 Perception 4-5

4.3.3 Policy Environment 4-6

4.3.4 Interest Level 4-7

4.3.5 Message 4-7

4.3.6 Budget 4-8

4.3.7  Capacity 4-9

4.3.8  Structure 4-10

4.4 Creating and Naming the Network 4-11

4.5 Case Studies  4-11

4.6 Conclusion 4-13

Chapter 5: Building and Organizing the Network

5.1 Introduction 5-1

5.2 Building a Network of Individuals 5-1

5.2.1 Identifying Advocates 5-2

5.2.2 Finding Potential Grassroots and Grasstops Individuals 5-3 Finding Grassroots Individuals 5-3 Finding Grasstops Individuals 5-2

5.3 Advocate Recruitment 5-5

5.3.1 The “Must-Opt-Out” Strategy 5-5

5.3.2 Large Scale Person-to-Person Outreach 5-6

5.3.3 Targeted Person-to-Person Outreach 5-6

5.3.4 Each-One-Reach-One Campaign 5-7

5.3.5 Easy Access to Registration Information 5-7

5.3.6 Event Recruitment 5-8

5.3.7  Assistance from Affiliated Entities 5-9

5.3.8  Small-Scale Public Relations 5-10

5.3.9  Large-Scale Public Relations 5-10

5.3.10  Web-Based Advertising 5-11

5.4  Collecting Information about Advocates: The Advocate Intake Form 5-11

5.4.1  Grassroots Network Members 5-11

5.4.2  Grasstops Network Members 5-12

5.4.3  Issues to Consider in Maintaining Network Information 5-13

5.4.4  Technological Options for Maintaining Network Information 5-14

5.5  Assigning Advocate Responsibilities: The Advocate Job Description             5-16

5.6  Building a Coalition 5-18

5.6.1  Why Utilize Coalitions? 5-18

5.6.2  Types of Coalitions  5-19

5.6.3  Joining vs Creating a Coalition 5-19

5.6.4  Criteria for Identifying and Selecting Groups to Participate in a Coalition 5-20

5.6.5  Approaching Potential Coalition Partners 5-21

5.7   Case Studies 5-22

5.8  Common Recruitment Problems/Scenarios  5-24

5.9  Conclusion 5-27

Chapter 6: Communicating Directly with Your Network

6.1 Introduction 6-1

6.2 Who Will the Organization be Communicating With?   6-2

6.3 What Messages Should be Communicated? 6-3

6.3.1 Recruitment 6-3

6.3.2 Information 6-3 Newsletters/Ongoing Communications 6-4 Special Updates 6-4 Training 6-5 Follow-ups 6-5

6.3.3 Action Alerts 6-6

6.3.4 Thank Yous 6-7

6.3.5 Assessment 6-7

6.3.6 A Note on Communications to Coalitions 6-7

6.4 How Will these Messages be Communicated? 6-8

6.4.1 Push versus Pull Strategies 6-8

6.4.2 Considerations for Effective “Pull” Communications in the Web 2.0 World 6-8

6.4.3 Specific Organization-to-Network Communication Tools 6-11 Mailings 6-12 Phone Trees/Phone Banks 6-12 E-mail 6-13 Websites 6-14 Blogs 6-17 Podcasts 6-19 Texting/IM-ing 6-20 Social Networks 6-21

6.5 Common Problems and Concerns 6-23

6.5.1 Frequency of Communication/Reducing Advocate Fatigue 6-23

6.5.2 Negative Posts/Editorial Tone 6-24

6.5.3 Not Finding the Right Tool for the Right Audience 6-25

6.6 Case Studies 6-25

6.7 Conclusion 6-27

Chapter 7: Communicating Through the Mass Media    7-1

7.1 Introduction 7-1

7.2 Types of Messages 7-2

7.3 Types of Media 7-4

7.3.1 Paid Media 7-4

7.3.2 Tips for Paid Media 7-4

7.3.3 Earned Media/”Press” 7-7

7.3.4 Four Steps to Effective Earned Media 7-8

7.3.5 Hybrid Approaches 7-9

7.4 Managing Your Media Approaches   7-10

7.5 Dealing with Opponents 7-11

7.6 Case Studies 7-12

7.7 Conclusion 7-13

Part 3 Activating Your Network and Others

Chapter 8: Training Your Advocates

8.1 Introduction 8-1

8.2 What Advocates Need to Know to be Effective 8-1

8.2.1 Additional Training Topics for Grasstops 8-6

8.2.2 Additional Training Topics for the Network 8-7

8.3 Training Delivery Options 8-7

8.3.1 Active Training 8-7 In-Person 8-7 Online 8-9

8.3.2 Self-paced Training 8-11

8.4 Creating a Comprehensive Training Program 8-13

8.5 Case Studies 8-14

8.6 Conclusion 8-16

Chapter 9: Activating and Motivating the Network 9-1

9.1 Introduction 9-1

9.2 Activating 9-2

9.2.1 When to Activate 9-2

9.2.2 How to Activate 9-3 Grasstops Activation 9-3 Targeted Grassroots Activation 9-3

9.2.3 Full-Scale Grassroots Activation 9-5

9.2.4 Coalition Activation 9-5

9.2.5 Combination Strategies 9-6

9.3 Motivating 9-6

9.3.1 Barriers to Participation 9-6

9.3.2 Overcoming Barriers 9-7

9.4 Recognizing Advocate Effort 9-10

9.5 Case Studies 9-11

9.6 Conclusion 9-13

Chapter 10: Implementing Specific Advocate Actions 10-1

10.1 Introduction 10-1

10.2 Lobby Days 10-2

10.2.1 Setting the Stage 10-4

10.2.2 Gathering Information 10-6

10.2.3 Initiating Meeting Requests 10-8

10.2.4 Scheduling Meetings 10-9

10.2.5 Scheduling Other Lobby Day Activities 10-9

10.2.6 Reporting 10-11

10.2.7 Staffing the Event 10-12

10.2.8 Creating Cohesion 10-13

10.3 District-based Lobby Days 10-13

10.4 Virtual Lobby Days 10-15

10.5 Site Visits 10-18

10.6 Townhall Meetings 10-20

10.7 Form Letters, Petitions and Postcard Campaigns 10-22

10.8 Personalized Written Communication 10-23

10.9 Phone Campaigns 10-26

10.10 Social Media Approaches 10-28

10.11 Media Outreach 10-29

10.12 Public Hearings/Testimony 10-31

10.13 Election Activities 10-33

10.14 PAC/Fundraising Efforts 10-36

10.15 Case Studies 10-38

10.16 Conclusion 10-40

For more information or to purchase this product click here.

Lovable Lobbyist Profile: Christine Sequenzia

December 1st, 2010 by Brittany

A photo of my dog, Mali, and I at the capitol lobbying for animal welfare.

Think “lovable,” and very likely, puppies and kittens come to mind.  Think “lobbyist,” and for one reason or another, those puppy-kitten images disappear, revealing a cloud of skepticism and distrust.  Why the bad rep?  We’re challenging the not-so-sunny perceptions of the lobbying community, one face at a time.  Meet Christine Sequenzia, a Texas A&M graduate who has dedicated her career to animal welfare and public policy.  Ms. Sequenzia currently serves as Federal Policy Advisor of the Animal Welfare Institute in Washington, D.C. and has worked on Capitol Hill and in the private sector

Do you have a personal connection to the nonprofit you work for?

Yes, most definitely.  As a young girl, I dreamed of becoming a veterinarian.  This dream lead to my first job as a horse stable hand cleaning horse stalls, and then on to the Animal Medical Center of Plano, where I worked as a veterinary technician for 7 years.  After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from Texas A&M University, I realized my impact would be greater lobbying for animal welfare measures on Capitol Hill.  Today, my efforts include ending horse slaughter, increasing humane living conditions for farm animals, marine mammal conservation and others.

For a full list, visit: AWIOnline.org.

What positive things would you like people to know about lobbying and advocacy?

Good Question!  First, not all lobbyists are “bad people.”  Many nonprofit and NGO lobbyists make less than Capitol Hill staffers, lobbying for causes in which they believe.  Advocating for stronger laws protecting girls against sex-trafficking, rights of domestic violence victims and solid animal protection policies are valiant and honorable causes.  Remember to look beyond the title and instead toward the goal.

What can people do to get involved in lovable advocacy activities with the Animal Welfare Institute?

To assist AWI in our lobby efforts visit the Compassion Index (CI) at www.CompassionIndex.org.  There you will be able to communicate directly with your elected representatives, view each member’s score on animal protective policies and write in support of AWI endorsed legislation by simply entering your zip code.

What else makes you lovable outside of your regular work?

Thank you for asking.  Currently, I am very busy volunteering at Doorways women’s shelter, answering hotline calls and assisting women seeking shelter, while coordinating our Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure team.  Most recently, the leaders of McLean Bible Church and I are planning a new praise event on Capitol Hill, called Capitol Praise!  Capitol Praise will be held weekly on the national mall during warmer months and will feature praise music from rock to gospel.  Please follow me on twitter  @CSequenzia or visit my website, www.ChristineSequenzia.com, for details.

To nominate a lovable lobbyist, email bcarter@columbiabooks.com.

Turkey Day Tips: A Travel Ethics Crash-Course

November 24th, 2010 by Autumn

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.

The Impact of the 2010 Election on the Organizational Structure of Congressional Committees

November 23rd, 2010 by Brittany

In advance of the upcoming transitional and organizational meetings for the 112th Congress, this latest report from Lobbyists.info brings you an inside look at committee assignments and their projected changes. This 60-page report ensures you have the latest in Congressional committee breakdowns.

Table of Contents

Introduction to the 112th Congress 4
Expected Congressional Transition Calendar 5
Committee Analysis 6
Methodology for Projections 15
House Committees  
Administration 16
Agriculture 17
Appropriations 18
Armed Services 20
Budget 22
Education and Labor 23
Energy & Commerce 24
Financial Services 25
Foreign Affairs 27
Homeland Security 28
Judiciary 29
Natural Resources 30
Oversight and Government Reform 31
Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence 32
Rules 33
Science & Technology 34
Small Business 35
Standards of Official Conduct (Ethics 36
Transportation and Infrastructure 37
Veterans’ Affairs 39
Ways & Means 40
Senate Committees  
Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry 41
Appropriations 42
Armed Services 43
Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs 44
Budget 45
Commerce, Science & Transportation 46
Energy & Natural Resources 47
Environment and Public Works 48
Finance 49
Foreign Relations 50
Health, Education, Labor And Pensions 51
Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs 52
Indian Affairs 53
Judiciary 54
Rules & Administration 55
Select Ethics 56
Select Intelligence 57
Small Business & Entrepreneurship 58
Special Aging 59
Veterans’ Affairs 60


For more information or to purchase this product, click here.

Verizon faces up-Hill battle on communication

November 22nd, 2010 by Autumn

Verizon, known as having one of the more active lobbying staffs in the technology industry, is again embroiled in a battle with the FCC, this time over broadband access to mobile devices.  The FCC is contemplating regulations that would require large mobile carriers, including Verizon and its top competitor AT&T, to open their data networks to smaller mobile carriers.

With an incoming Congress that will favor less regulation, Verizon could find itself increasing Hill activity even more.  The proposed change, part of a larger broadband reclassification effort by the FCC, is slated for a vote at the commission’s December meeting.  The reclassification is favored by net neutrality proponents, but opposed by carriers.  Verizon has battled against the FCC on the overall issue of net neutrality, spending over $14.7million through the first three quarters on lobbying against the issue.

Broadband reclassification and net neutrality are not the only topics with which Verizon takes issue.  The company, which has by far the top presence on Internet laws on the Hill, also lobbies Congressmen on issues around taxation, the patent reform, healthcare and international trade regulation, in addition to other efforts.

Verizon’s lobbying efforts don’t stop there.  The communications giant is also notoriously involved in state and local lobbying in New York, and a large contributor to campaigns it deems worthwhile.  It has also been linked to the fiscally conservative Tea Party in Cincinnati.  With the issues of net neutrality and taxes center stage in the new Congress, expect Verizon’s presence on Capitol Hill to increase, not decline, in the coming months.

Auto industry looks to lobbyists to accelerate agenda

November 22nd, 2010 by Autumn

The auto industry could see a favorable shift in safety and regulatory policy with the seating of the new Congress, Automotive News predicts.  With issues revolving around climate change legislation and the impact of “greenhouse gases” on the environment and human health, car makers could see their profit margins increase if industry-friendly policies win out over increased regulations, which is the expected direction of the Republican-led House.

Still, there could be a stalemate on issues relevant to automakers, as the Republican-led House and Democrat-led Senate fail to come to a consensus on many pertinent issues.  Democrats will tug for environment-favoring policy and increased regulation, while Republicans will look to decrease regulatory authority of the EPA and the banking industry, which finances consumer automotive purchasing.

Toyota is among the first companies to scout government relations staff.  The Japanese automaker is in search of a new chief lobbyist, after Josephine Cooper, who held the position previously, left to start her own firm.  According to the Senate LDA database, Toyota (all Toyota affiliates) spent over $5million in the first three quarters of 2010 alone.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers has been particularly vocal on environmental regulation, safety standards, and consumer lending practices, and in light of what it sees as possible favor from the new Congress, will likely bolster its lobbying spending above the over $10million it has spent through three quarters in 2010.

Budget issues bolster need for lobbyists

November 22nd, 2010 by Autumn

With every item on the federal budget slated for re-examination in light of the current concerns over tearing away at the budget deficit, corporate, state, and association interests are finding their issues increasingly at risk.  From Social Security and Medicare to defense authorizations and energy investments, nothing is safe from the budgetary chopping block.

Agriculture, transportation and healthcare are expected to be big topics of contention, and as such, companies in those industries in particular will increase Hill activity in the coming months as the 2011 budget is authorized and decisions are made regarding bills with long-term implications.

This is great news for lobbyists.  Government relations activity should see a sharp increase, as organizations scramble to educate incoming Congressmen who, on the heels of their campaign momentum, will be eager to slash spending, and vie for their programs to remain untouched.  AARP, the National Home Builders Association, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, and the American Petroleum Institute, among others, have already made efforts to increase their efforts on Capitol Hill.

Budget cuts could prove to be a lobbyists' best friend

Though seemingly, the Republican vow to eliminate earmarks could be a death sentence for lobbyists who previously hit it big with earmarks, Roll Call reports that some lobbyists see this as merely an opportunity for members of their profession.  Grassroots social media efforts will need to be beefed up, and lobbyists may find themselves spending a lot of time educating on the need for certain programs, in an effort to curb the enthusiasm of freshman Senators and Representatives to take a cleaver to the budget.

Industry Moves and Changes

November 22nd, 2010 by Autumn

David Tilstone has been named president of the National Tooling and Machining Association.

Scott Kamins, deputy chief of staff and director of government affairs at the Republican National Committee, has been named a director at the Prime Policy Group.

Charles Salem, chief of staff to Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), is joining Microsoft as managing director for public policy.

George Lowe, who spent four years serving as chief of staff to former Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), has joined Brown Rudnick’s Washington office as a partner. Lowe will work as a lobbyist in Brown Rudnick’s government law and strategies group

Weekly News Round-Up

November 19th, 2010 by Autumn

In this, the week of ethical trial decisions, proceedings did not fare well for the defendants.

  • The trial of Kevin Ring, the only Abramoff associate to try his luck in court, came to an end Monday, when a jury found him guilty of five felony counts of corruption.  Ring took eleven congressional aides and Bush administration officials down with him, along with nine others.  
  • Tom DeLay, the former Speaker of the House charged with money laundering and conspiracy, did not take the stand in his own defense before his attorney rested his case.  Though the case is largely circumstantial, several witness testimonies have implicated DeLay as having been involved in, or at minimum knowledgeable about, the transactions.  Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday.
  • Rep. Charles Rangle (D-NY) was found guilty of 11 charges, including improperly soliciting lobbying funds and failing to disclose income and assets.
  • Though facing investigation, and not actually on trial, conservative backers of American Principles in Action received negative press for not disclosing funds spent on Latino outreach this past election.  Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is concerned that the group may have exploited the Citizens United decision beyond the Court’s initial intent.

Bundles of FUNds Compliance Q&A

November 18th, 2010 by Autumn

The changing environment of campaign finance regulations means lots of fun for lobbyists trying to do their job effectively.  Actually, what it really means is a pain in the rear.  Luckily, we here at LobbyBlog are combing through the laws on your behalf.  If you are a lobbyist, you need to know the basic rules about bundling contributions.

Who is covered by the bundling rule?

A: Any lobbyist registered under the LDA and any PAC that is “established or controlled” by a lobbyist so registered is subject to the bundling restrictions.

What qualifies as “bundling”?

Contributions that are either “forwarded” — delivered or transmitted, either electronically or physically– or “received and credited” — received directly from a contributor, but credited to a specific lobbyist–are treated as “bundled.”  It is worth noting that some campaigns now forbid lobbyists from “forwarding” any contributions because reporting these bundled funds has become too much of a hassle.

What is reportable?

Aggregate contributions of $16,000 or more during a single reporting period meet the trigger for report.  However, all reporting committees must file semi-annually as well as quarterly to ensure that any contributions of $16,000  in aggregate funds is disclosed to the FEC, even if the contributions are not made in the same quarter.

Tuesday Ethics Tip: Nonprofit Lobbying Edition

November 16th, 2010 by James

First of all: are nonprofits allowed to lobby? The answer is very clearly “yes,” although there are some restrictions.

The LDA (as amended by HLOGA) states that in addition to reporting all lobbying expenditures on their Form 990, nonprofits may also be required to register with Congress and report their activities, but only if they meet these two thresholds:

  • You have an employee who is a “lobbyist,”* defined as someone who spends 20% or more of his/her time engaged in lobbying activities and the same employee makes one or more lobbying contact in the same quarter
  • Your total federal lobbying expenses are expected to exceed $11,500 during a quarter

Q:  How should our 501 (c)(3) organization report board members’ contributions when we file?

A: While 501(c)(3) organizations cannot make political contributions, they can be involved in certain lobbying activities. A board member of a 501 (c)(3) can participate in these activities.  This would not make them lobbyists, unless there is something else that would trigger a need to register as a lobbyist. If a federally registered lobbyist is a member of the board of a 501 (c)(3) organization and participates in that organization’s event, in the capacity of board member, at which a congressman or senator is honored, that does not need to be disclosed.

Q: Can a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization sponsor travel for members of congress or congressional staffers?

A: Yes, although there are specific guidelines on the amount of time that is appropriate, and the rules differ for Senate and House members.

Q: Can a non-profit make a choice between the lobbying definition used by the LDA and the one used by the IRC?

A:  Yes, Congress allows organizations that have to track their lobbying expenditures in accordance with the tax code to use that format with their LDA reporting. You may therefore choose whether you want to just maintain one system for tracking and reporting lobbying expenditures and whether you want to do both. There are pros and cons for both types of filing.

Q: When I decide to use one definition (LDA v. IRC) over the other one, is that decision binding in the future, or can it be changed on a year-to-year basis?

A: It is not binding and you can change it.  It would be cumbersome to change it back and forth and back and forth, because you would be changing a lot of what you are tracking. But it is a choice that each organization has to make. If you decide to change, you simply notify the proper people on your LD-2.

Today’s post borrowed heavily from this one! (Thanks, Madiha!)

Weekly Lobbying News Round-up

November 12th, 2010 by Autumn

This week was full of developments, in the wake of several ethic investigations and a massive effort on K Street to prepare for the new Congress.  Among the top stories we followed:

  • Congresswoman in deep “Waters” over contributions – Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has recently been accused of penning legislation in favor of a firm whose lobbying arm paid her husband $15,000 in consulting fees. Waters was already knee-deep in an ethics scandal regarding her attempts to steer money into her husband’s bank.
  • Jurors in the Kevin Ring ethics trial are having difficulty deciding whether or not Ring violated lobbying laws, specifically whether or not he intended corruption.  The judge in the case has assisted with definitions, instructing jurors to further deliberations.
  • Legislators in New Jersey are discussing whether or not lobbyists should be eligible for pension plans and health insurance.  The State Assembly is set to vote on a bill to deny these benefits later this month, citing a new belief that lobbyists are not “genuine state employees.” With jurisdictions nationwide looking to cut spending, there is speculation as to whether or not this could become a national trend.
  • Monday, Lobbyists testified in the ongoing money laundering trial of former Rep. Tom DeLay.  Lobbyists for Bacardi and Reliant Energy admitted to $70,000 in donations to DeLay during his 2002 election campaign, but his lawyer claims these donations were simply “politics as usual.

Campaign Finance in 2010

November 11th, 2010 by Autumn

This election saw record campaign spending from outside groups.  What changed to enable such astonishing third-party contributions?

  • Citizens United – for the first time in over 60 years, unions and corporations were permitted to spend treasury funds on ads calling for the election or defeat of certain candidates.  Prior to the ruling, these organizations were only permitted to advertise around particular issues, not in favor or opposition to particular candidates.  Corporate executives can donate business funds to nonprofits to advertise on behalf of the corporation anonymously — without anyone ever knowing where the money originated — providing incentive for CEOs reluctant to have a company openly endorse candidates in the past.
  • New FEC interpretation – The FEC has not required as much disclosure about advertising as it has in previous years, releasing a rule revision requiring only funds specifically donated for advertisements be disclosed.  This made it possible for contributors to avoid disclosure by simply not specifying where their money should be spent.   Half of the commissioners narrowed the margin for disclosure requirements even more, allowing funds to be designated for advertising and still avoid disclosure, as long as the contributors didn’t specify for which ad the money would be spent.  This drastically decreases the donation disclosure.
  • Super-PACs and the Speechnow aftermath – Citizens United opened the door for unlimited spending, which may have been the Pandora’s Box that led to the verdict in Speechnow.org v. FEC. Thanks to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (and the U.S. Supreme Court who later refused to hear the case to overturn the verdict), groups can now identify as “independent expenditure committees,” allowing unlimited contributions from unlimited sources, though they must register as PACs.

To recap: thanks to two anti-regulatory court rulings, now groups can receive unlimited contributions fro

m unlimited sources, then spend in unlimited amounts with fewer restrictions, as long as they continue to register with the FEC.  The changing of the guard in the Capitol when the newly-elected Congressmen are seated should afford more changes, and less regulation, thanks to small-government favoring Republicans. Stay tuned!

Are you prepared for a GAO audit?

November 10th, 2010 by Brittany

Preparing for a GAO Audit of Lobbying Disclosure Reports
What you need to know
December 9, 2010 | 2:00-3:30 pm EST

Have you aligned your activities with HLOGA? Don’t let the new year find you unprepared. The GAO has now gone through several audit cycles. With leeway for unintentional failure to disclose expired, flawed disclosure and information monitoring will now trigger enforcement actions – and severe civil and criminal penalties.

Keeping your political activities, yourself, and your firm in compliance with the law takes vigilance. Find out what you can do now to protect yourself and prepare.

Register for Preparing for a GAO Audit of your Lobbying Disclosure Filings. This information-packed audioconference arms you with specific “do it now” guidance for making sure your records, contributions, gifts, practices and reporting will stand up under the harshest regulatory scrutiny. From checklists to real-world advice, you’ll come away with a solid action plan you can implement by December 31st, allowing you to breathe easy as you make all of the required filings.