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.

Mail-order Pharmacy Purchase cialis generic online is canada cialis online pharmacy In-case you suffer with allergic rhinitis make sure you check out on line where to order cialis online safe Sex performance stress sometimes happens to men in any of the situations. The deal that is real cialis pills for sale Gone are the days when people used to see medical stores situated within their place buy generic cialis Generally individuals begin smoking to be able to be relieved cialis overnight A part of the participants received a buy tadalafil online no prescription Erection dysfunction is wild in people that cialis 20 mg cost Two adults that are healthy shouldnt have to resort to medications of all kinds. Some spare time spent calming Cheapest cheapest cialis What is the difference between on line drugstore medications and other kinds of pharmacy drugs? where to buy cialis cheap Every once in awhile the main drug stores that are on-line acquire their medicines in bulk, which will how to order cialis online safely

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.

MONTHLY NETWORKING EVENT
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.

State vs. Federal Lobbying

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!

GOP Attacks AARP

March 31st, 2011 by Autumn

A Politico story published today reports that the House Ways and Means Committee released a report asserting that AARP’s interest in the healthcare overhaul presented a conflict of interests, considering the group’s connections within the industry.

The story quotes GOP lobbyist Chris Lamond of Thorn Run Partners, who says, “There is certainly a sense of getting back at some of those groups that supported [healthcare reform].  It is a little bit like, ‘We are in charge of the House side, we are going to hold their feet to the fire.’”

AARP spent $114,706,000 in lobbying dollars during the critical period between giada delaurentis little pokies 2008-2010 (when healthcare reform legislation was passed, and then Republicans, running largely on promise to repeal the measure, took control of the House of Representatives).  This is purely the amount spent on direct lobbying, as reported on LDA disclosures filed with the Senate.  This does not speak to any campaign donations on behalf of the organization, or direct contributions made by members at the urging of their association leadership.

The story goes on to contend that the IRS, which the House committee has designated as being responsible for taking action on the issue, has not raised any qualms with the organization.

Survey Finds Coalitions Yield Good ROI

March 28th, 2011 by Autumn

A new lobbyists.info survey found that though most government relations professionals report spending very little time on coalition building, the strategic alliances promote more efficient, effective lobbying tactics.

Forty-seven percent of those surveyed say they spend less than one day each week on activities to support coalition building, but just under half (48.7%) reported participating in 2-5 coalitions in the last 12 months.

“[C]oalitions are a wonderful took for smaller or single-issue organizations looking to expand their audience,” says Laura Renz, Director of Government Relations & Research at Campaign Freedom.

Interest in a specific issue, followed closely by interest in a specificpolicy or piece of legislation, were by far the greatest factors considered when joining a coalition, with 87.2% and 84.6% of respondents, respectively indicating these as “very useful” factors in making the decision, and 61.5% ranking both compatibility of industry and organization type as “somewhat useful.”  (Compatibility of organization type received more “very useful” ratings — 20.5% versus 17.9% for common industry.

For Campaign Freedom, all of the above were factors in the decision to join a coalition. “We had an issue come up last year that was huge for my organization that we had a lot of expertise on, but not necessarily the ability to get that information out to a broad audience,” Renz says. “Reaching out to a larger association that had an interest in the same issue but not the expertise was hugely beneficial for everything, and since then I’ve always considered coalitions to simply be getting more bang for your buck.”

An overwhelming majority (94.9%) of respondents reported that the first place they turn to recruit potential allies is personal and industry networks, and 64.1% rely on either print or electronic news sources as a primary resource for information about current and proposed coalitions.  Other sources of information sought when building coalitions included electronic databases like lobbyists.info, content management software, action alerts, and targeted campaigns.

Just over half of responses (55.8%) indicated that technology is used to identify potential allies or adversaries, but an astonishing 89.5% reported technology is useful for disseminating information about their own efforts, and 84.2% reported using technologies to track legislation or issues.

Finance Reformers Seek Regulatory Help

March 28th, 2011 by Autumn

Absent intervention into campaign finance reform by the judicial branch, those hoping to put limits on what has been referred to as a”floodgate” of campaign funding made possible by last year’s Citizens United ruling have sought help from the Federal Communications Commission.

Media Access Project senior vice president and policy director Andrew Schwartzman argued last week that the FCC has long had the power to require political groups to disclose donors when running political ads.  In a petition filed March 22, he calls on the agency “to amend and strengthen its rules to require on-air identification of persons paying” ’25% or more of the cost of an ad, according to the organization’s official press release.

Schwartzman said, “The FCC has repeatedly said that members of the public are entitled to know by whom they are being persuaded, and it has stressed that this is especially important in the case of political messages. This petition simply seeks to update the FCC’s rules to fulfill its Congressional mandate.”

The petition points out what it believes to be “a fundamental policy…that ‘listeners are entitled to know by whom they are being persuaded.”

This effort by the Media Access Project is the latest attempt by campaign finance reformers seeking to narrow the reach of theCitizens United decision.  Several attempts have been made to urge the Supreme Court to re-define the judgement’s implications, but the Court has declined to hear these appeals.

Fact Check: Lobbying Regulatory Agencies

March 22nd, 2011 by Autumn

Last week, Politico ran a story about “A Second Stimulus for K Street,” in which the author discussed the profitability of lobbying regulatory agencies in this climate (which Dom Ruscio of Cavarocchi, Ruscio, Dennis & Associates, LLC referenced when he quipped “Regulation is the new earmarks” in a January Lobbying Certificate Process).

The SEC, like many other government agencies, is scrambling to write and enact rules to enforce recent legislation. But don't be deceived: contacting SEC officials is still lobbying.

The story suggests that “unlike traditional lobbying, regulatory work is part of the largely unreported influence economy, like political intelligence, grass roots and research.”  This is only partly true.  While lobbying regulatory agencies is indeed lucrative, a lot of regulatory agents are executive branch appointees, and thus lobbying these individuals is subject to HLOGA rules and LDA reporting.  Obama defines “Executive agency” as including each “executive agency” defined by section 105 of title 5 of the United States Code (read: all of the regulatory agencies), plus employees of the US Postal Service and Postal Regulatory Commission, but excluding employees of the GAO.

“Appointees” include “every full Online Pokies time, non career Presidential or Vice Presidential, non career appointee in the Senior Executive Service (or other SES type system), and appointee to a position that has been excepted from the competitive service by reason of being a confidential or policymaking character (Schedule C and other positions excepted under comparable criteria) in an executive agency.  It does not include any person appointed as a member of the Senior Foreign Service or solely as a uniformed service commissioned officer.”

Under President Obama’s Executive Order, these officials cannot accept any gifts of any value from lobbyists. Additionally, contacts made with these officials should be reported on the LDA filings, if the thresholds for lobbying are met.  Any firm or individual receiving $3,000 or more per quarter from a particular client, makes a second lobbying contact on behalf of said client, and  spends 20% or more of the time for that client (not comprehensively, this is evaluated on a per-client basis) must file an LD-1 registration.  Any lobbying contacts made on behalf of that client, including contacts to regulatory agencies and other Executive Branch officials, must be subsequently reported on future LD-2 forms.

US Olympic Committee heads to the Hill

March 16th, 2011 by Autumn

The USOC will pair up with the Congressional Olympic and Paralympic Caucus today at 1pm to host a free-throw contest in room 2226 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  The contest, which was scheduled to coincide with the beginning of March Madness, will raise awareness about US Olympic Committee programs and their impact on Team USA’s success.

Joining Congressional Olympic and Paralympic Caucus founders and co-chairs Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.),  Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), and Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) will be several Olympic and Paralympic champions.

Olympic gold winners Jackie Joyner-Kersee (track & field), Christian Laettner (men’s basketball), Evan Lysacek (figure skating), Shawn Johnson (women’s gymnastics), Teresa Edward (women’s basketball), and Andy Yohe live sex free web cam (sled hockey) will join the Congressmen and staffers on the court.  Paralympic track and field athletes April Holmes (gold), Marlon Shirley (gold), Lex Gillette (silver) and  Carlos Leon (wounded veteran) will also participate, along with fellow paralympians William “Spanky” Gibson (USOC Paralympic Military Program Athlete), and Alana Nichols, who has won gold medals in skiing and basketball.

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun said via the event’s official press release, “Olympians and Paralympians are a special type of people, committed to ideas like excellence, friendship and respect. I encourage anyone able, to come test their skills against some of America’s greatest role models.”

There has been some speculation about which Congressman will win the competition, but insiders say Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) has the competition locked up.