Posts Tagged ‘lobbyists’

Young Leadership Network Happy Hour 8/19/2010

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 by Brittany

Join the Young Leadership Network for a networking happy hour from 5-7 pm at Ping Pong Dim Sum in Chinatown next Thursday (8/19).

About the YLN: The Young Leadership Network, an extension of the American League of Lobbyists, exists to provide young professionals with a peer-to-peer network designed to foster deep roots in Washington and throughout the lobbying community. The YLN hosts monthly networking happy hours in the DC metro area on the 3rd Thursday of each month as well as other events throughout the year.

Ping Pong Restaurant
900 7th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Map it

Questions? Contact Brittany Carter at bcarter@columbiabooks.com

Filing Reminder: LD-203 Forms Due Today

Friday, July 30th, 2010 by James

All lobbyists listed on LDA registration and reporting forms (LD-1 & LD-2) must file and certify their LD-203 Form TODAY, Friday, July 30.

Get that last minute paperwork in to the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House.

Need to catch up on what’s required in your filing? Check out the Lobbying Compliance Handbook for easy-to-use, practical compliance advice and legal analysis.

Filing Reminder: LD-203 Forms Due Next Week

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 by James

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.

Free Ethics White Paper

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010 by James

We’re pleased to announce that we have a new white paper posted on www.lobbyists.info. This paper is a handy-dandy collection of ethics tips from Lobby Blog – reworked into a printable, savable format.

Topics that we cover:

  • So You’re a Lobbyist… What Next?
  • Registering to Lobby as a Non-Profit
  • How to (Correctly) File Your LD-203
  • How to Report Lobbying the Executive Branch
  • What Defines a Meal on the Hill?
  • Giving A Gift: What Won’t Land You in Jail?
  • Drinks at the Bar: A Quick and Dirty Guide
  • Taking a Member or Staffer to a Ticketed Event

Simply enter your email address and print your PDF here.

Find more white papers and free resources here on www.lobbyists.info.

Amendment To LDA Passes

Monday, July 12th, 2010 by James

The House passed an amendment to the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (as amended by 2007′s Honest Leadership &Open Government Act) on June 28.  Originally the bill sought to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act, but as passed, it now amends the Lobbying Disclosure Act to “prohibit any registered lobbyist whose clients include foreign governments which are found to be sponsors of international terrorism or include other foreign nationals from making contributions and other campaign-related disbursements in elections for public office.”

The Bill passed 408-4, and received very little attention. And while this is a minor change, it could potentially limit some lobbyists from contributing politically, exercising their political speech rights in U.S. elections. According to the Department of State, there are four currently-recognized state sponsors of terrorism: Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Sudan.  Updated: compliance expert Mark Ward points out below in the comments that: “Lobbyists of foreign governments and foreign political parties do not register under the LDA; they must register under FARA; The laws allows agents of foreign corporations to register under the LDA in lieu of FARA, but must do so even if LDA thresholds are not met.” This was not clear in the original post. Thank you to Mark for bringing it to our attention.

The bill text is now available from the GPO here (H.R. 5609). The Library of Congress’s THOMAS profile of the bill is now available here.

Honest Services Fraud Statute Diminished by Supreme Court Ruling

Monday, July 12th, 2010 by James

The public corruption statute, which has been used by the federal government to prosecute lobbyists in the JackScales of justiceAbramoff case (among myriad other bribery and kickback cases), was narrowed in definition by the Supreme Court on June 24.

The decision, according to Roll Call, “limit[s] the use of a public corruption statute known as the ‘honest services’ law to only those cases involving bribery or kickback schemes.”  The Court decided on three separate cases: Skilling v. United States, Black v. United States, and Weyhrauch v. United States. According to Covington & Burling, a DC law firm, the fraud statute is now “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.”

Judge Ellen Huvelle, US District Court for the District of Columbia, ordered the re-trial of former Abramoff associate Kevin Ring to be delayed until October, citing the Supreme Court decision in Skilling as narrowing the scope of the applicable statute under which Ring was charged.  But the Department of Justice isn’t changing their approach to prosecuting Ring, who was mis-tried in the fall and re-scheduled for trial this summer.  Ring’s prosecution is for a bribery scheme. Federal prosecutor Peter Koski said the high court’s ruling in Skilling v. United States has “no impact whatsoever” on Ring’s prosecution.

Because the prosecutor must now prove specific quid pro quo actions in order to correctly use the Honest Services Fraud statute, Huvelle told prosecutors that they must outline specific official actions and their intended outcomes in the next few weeks; she also ordered Ring’s attorneys to file a new motion to acquit.

Roll Call article is here; Covington & Burling update is here. (PDF)  See our previous post on Skilling, et. al, here.

Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up

Friday, July 9th, 2010 by James

Weekly newsUFO Lobbyist seeks to bring extra-terrestrial issues to the forefront of Congress’s legislative schedule.

How sweet it is: honey lobbyists ask the FDA for national purity standards as a method of trade protection.  (Washington Post)

Publicly-financed elections come to the fore-front. The Washington Post reports on Common Cause  and Public Campaign’s effect to pass the Fair Elections Now Act.

People seem to be endlessly fascinated by the fact that Facebook has a DC lobbying presence. Maybe it’s because they’re spending all day on Farmville? (The Hill, subscription required).

DISCLOSE Soldiers On. The Democrats are hopeful that they’ll get their pet campaign finance issue through the Senate within a reasonable time-frame. (Roll Call, subscription required).

Lobbyists take advantage of World Cup fever by lobbying for the world’s biggest sporting event to be held in the US in 2022. (The Hill, subscription required).

LD-2 filings are due in less than two weeks. Are you prepared? And it’s July, meaning a double-whammy of filing: LD-203 Forms are due on July 30.

Quote of the week:

“Lobby disclosure enforcement is notoriously lax.” – Meredith McGehee, Campaign Legal Center, Politico, July 4.

Skilling, Black, Weyhrauch, and You

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 by James

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).

YLN Wine Tasting and Networking Event

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010 by Brittany

Photo credit: www.photos8.com

Join ALL’s Young Leadership Network (YLN) for an evening of wine tasting and networking at Screwtop Wine Bar in Clarendon, VA. A sommelier will be there to guide us through a tasting of Italian wines, and light appetizers will be served. This is a great way to meet other industry professionals and learn a thing or two about wine!

While the event is hosted by the YLN, we enourage government relations professionals of all ages to join the fun. We look forward to seeing you there!

Click here to register.

Date: July 21, 2010
Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Place: Screwtop Wine Bar
1025 North Fillmore Street
Arlington, VA 22201
Map It

Closest Metro: Clarendon (Orange Line)

Cost: $10/ALL Members; $15/Nonmembers Click here to register!

SPACE IS LIMITED. Deadline for Registration is 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, July 20

Tuesday Ethics Tip: Home Entertainment Edition

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010 by James

So you’re a lobbyist, you just moved to your brand-new Capitol Hill rowhouse, and you want to invite friends – including Members and staffers – over for a house-warming party. Who can you invite? Do you have to get it approved by the ethics committee? What should you serve?

We can’t help you with the menu in this case (although take a look at our Meal Definition Edition ethics tip for tips on what constitutes a “meal”). But here’s does and don’ts for entertaining people at your home.

A lobbyist may entertain a Member or staffer in his/her home if that person is a personal friend of the lobbyist and the situation meets the test for the personal friendship exceptions. This means that the personal hospitality being offered under the personal frienship exception is reciprocal in that the Member or staffer similarly provides meals and personal hospitality to the lobbyist.

A lobbyist is not permitted to offer his / her home as an entertainment venue to a Member or staffer, nor to issue an invitation to visit or use a lobbyist’s beach house or mountain condo, even if those are owned by the lobbyist personally. The exception for personal hospitality does not extend to individuals who are lobbyists. Inviting Members or staffers to your home must fall under the personal friendship exception, meaning that all the factors of personal friendship must be in place for the exception to be appropriate.

Again – the key word is “reciprocal.” There must be a history of gift-giving or reciprocal dinner invitations, at the same level of giving.

The information in this post is from the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, a comprehensive guide to ethics, LDA filing, and life as a federal lobbyist. New edition coming soon! Details on the Lobbying Compliance Handbook are available here.

Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up

Friday, July 2nd, 2010 by James

Eric Brown tips us off to an LDA amendment: originally the bill sought to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act, but now amends the Lobbying Disclosure Act to “prohibit any registered lobbyist whose clients include foreign governments which are found to be sponsors of international terrorism or include other foreign nationals from making contributions and other campaign-related disbursements in elections for public office”; bill text is now available from the GPO here (H.R. 5609).

Big acquisition by Patton Boggs reported: Breaux Lott Leadership Group will now be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Patton Boggs; former Senators John Breaux (D-La.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and their small but “effective” boutique lobbying firm will join the large team at Patton Boggs, starting immediately. Bonus (because it’s Friday): did you know Trent Lott’s given name is Chester Trent Lott? His son (also a member of the lobbying group) bears the same name. Now you know. Read about the “strategic coup” at the Blog of Legal Times.

Time profiles Lobbyists and their Return on Investment, in a series of short lobbyist/issue/payoff profiles.

Ex-Rep. John Campbell was taken down by the Jack Abramoff affair; Roll Call profiles Campbell’s life since 2005.

House Ethics Clears Rep. Richardson. The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct released its report in the matter of Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) and cleared her of any wrongdoing in the mortgage matter. (link is a PDF)

Two great compliance / political law resources to take to the beach with you  over your long holiday weekend:

Quote of the week:

“The irony of it is that every time the president says we lobbyists have all this influence, people who don’t have a lobbyist want one… He exaggerates our power, but he increases demand for our services.” – Tony Podesta, Podesta Group, NYTimes article on the “Superlobbyist,” July 1.

Happy 4th of July Holiday Weekend from all of us at Lobby Blog!

Can you lobby the military?

Thursday, June 24th, 2010 by James

Washington is abuzz with the resignation and replacement of Gen. Stanley McChrystal with Gen. David Petraeus as commander in Afghanistan (pending Petraeus’ Senate confirmation).

As lobbyists keep up with the changing environment, here’s a reminder: when lobbying top level executive branch officials, including those in the military, lobbying firms must disclose and report such lobbying contacts on their lobbying expenditures.  According to the LDA statute, “uniformed military personnel, rank 0-7 and above” are considered reportable.

What constitutes a lobbying contact? Almost all communications with an executive branch official would be considered reportable under LDA reporting guidelines, with a couple of statuatory exemptions:

  • A status request
  • A scheduling request
  • A contact made at a widely-attended event or as a member of the news media

If reporting lobbying expenditures (i.e., if you are a trade association or corporation with an in-house lobbyist for your own issues), the reporting rules vary if you opt for the LDA reporting or the Internal Revenue Code reporting. If you opt to use the LDA, the rules are the same as for someone reporting lobbying income. If you opt to use the IRC method, you do not have to report meeting with “members of the uniformed services serving at grade 0-7 or above.” However, be careful in when lobbying other executive branch officials – see below for some examples. You must report contacts with:

  • The President, Vice-President, any officer or employee of the Executive Office of the President (EOP)
  • The two most senior level officers of other agencies in the EOP
  • Cabinet officers (e.g., Secretary of Defense Robert Gates)
  • Any individual designated by the President as having Cabinet-level status
  • Immediate deputies of Cabinet level officials (e.g., Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn)

The information in this post is from the Lobbying Compliance Handbook.

Lobbyists banned from advisory boards

Monday, June 21st, 2010 by James

President Obama formalized his administration’s policy of excluding registered lobbyists from executive branch advisory boards and commissions on Friday afternoon.

The White House blog announced that the President has directed advisory boards and commissions to not re-appoint currently serving members if they are also lobbyists, and not appoint new members who are lobbyists. This is a continuation of the September 23 White House directive that “strongly discouraged” the appointment or re-appointment of lobbyists to the boards.

The American League of Lobbyists’ Dave Wenhold, who pushed back against the policy when the less formal version was announced in September, said that he still believes the policy is a bad idea, because organizations that could not afford to have multiple subject specialists could now be excluded from the process.

The White House blog commented that while some lobbyists have made positive contributions, “phasing out those who simultaneously serve as lobbyists will have the added benefit of opening these boards up to fresh faces and engaging more Americans in our governing process.”

Read the memo from the White House here.

Updated LDA Guidance Available

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 by James

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.

We think lobbyists are lovable…

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 by Brittany

With all the teasing, whispers and not-so-nice mentions in the press, with think lobbyists have been having a pretty bad run of it so we’ve decided to do something about that.

Starting this month, Lobby Blog will feature our picks for “Lovable Lobbyist” of the month.

Have a lobbyist you think is lovable and out there fighting for a great cause? Send an email to web@lobbyists.info to nominate them today! Each “Lovable Lobbyist” will be featured on the blog and receive a special gift from the team at Lobby Blog and Lobbyists.info.

We’re sure many of the nominations will come for lobbyists working at nonprofits and charities but we are open to anyone you think is doing something lovable. We look forward to hearing from you!