Posts Tagged ‘Disclosure’

Federal Lobbying Disclosure Due

Friday, January 18th, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

LOBBYBLOG REMINDS YOU that two disclosure deadlines are approaching:

January 20 – LD-2
The once semi-annual, now quarterly report of lobbying income/expenditures is due for the fourth quarter of the LD-2 reporting calendar (see below). “Each registrant must file a quarterly report on Form LD-2 no later than 20 days (or on the first business day after such 20th day if the 20th day is not a business day) after the end of the quarterly period beginning on the first day of January, April, July and October of each year in which a registrant is registered.” (House Office of the Clerk). January 20th is in fact a Sunday, and the following Monday is a holiday, so make sure to get your LD-2 forms ready by Tuesday the 22nd.

Reporting Period    Filing Date
Jan 1 – March 31 April 20
April 1 – June 30 July 20
July 1 – Sept 30 Oct 20
Oct 1 – Dec 31 Jan 20

January 30 – LD-203
The semi-annual report is required of all lobbyists to certify ethics compliance and disclosure. “Form LD-203 is required to be filed semiannually by July 30th and January 30th (or next business day should either of those days fall on a weekend or holiday) covering the first and second calendar halves of the year. Registrants and active lobbyists (who are not terminated for all clients) must file separate reports which detail FECA contributions, honorary contributions, presidential library contributions, and payments for event costs.”  January 30th is a Wednesday.

For quick guidance on disclosure, visit  For a more substantive reference guide, consider The Lobbying Compliance Handbook

How not to land yourself in jail

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 by Vbhotla

You have probably heard by now that Paul Magliocchetti, the founder of the now-defunct PMA Group, was sentenced to 27 months behind bars for his role in organizing a campaign finance scheme.  In addition to the prison sentence, which will be served at a North Carolina federal prison hospital, the former House Appropriations Committee staffer was fined $75,000.

The sitting judge, the Honorable T.S. Ellis, issued the sentence as a warning to other lobbyists, and simultaneously expressed his displeasure with prosecutors who seek only fines in similar cases.  He did not grant the 57 month prison term and $629,000 fine the prosecutors sought initially, and told Magliocchetti that his good works were not obliterated, he was not responsible for a PMA Group-favorite donor’s suicide in light of the investigations, and said he should make amends with his son, who plead guilty to charges related to the case.

So what can be drawn from the Magliocchetti case?  First, people are seeking to make examples of lobbyists, so tread lightly.  Make sure you are in compliance with HLOGA and all of its developments, and be sure to carefully review your LD-203 filings for errors, remembering that your signature is “under penalty of perjury.”

Make sure that you disclose any campaign donations, be they to PACs, independent expenditure groups, political parties, or candidates and their election committees, on the form.

Bundle with care.  You will need to be aware of the limits and follow them closely.  Citizens United opened the door for unlimited giving, but did not take away the reporting requirements.

A good rule of thumb: if you can’t report it, don’t give it.  Recent cases have shown that prosecutors are looking and will find any missteps.  Repercussions may not be immediate, but they are coming.  US News & World Report found that only 20% of companies properly disclose their political donations, and only 14% actually have indirect disclosure policies.

If you find yourself overwhelmed by the LD-203’s reporting requirements, it is not too late to join today’s LD-203 bootcamp, which will be held at 2p.

Supreme Court upholds PAC disclosure requirements

Monday, November 8th, 2010 by Vbhotla

In what many are calling a follow-up to the Citizens United ruling, and a blow to campaign finance reform, the Supreme Court declined to hear arguments in the vs. FEC case last week.  Many are suggesting this broadens the reach of Citizens United and allows for increases freedom of speech in the electoral process.

The decision allows for unlimited donations to “independent expenditure groups” such as, and challenges FEC regulation of campaign donations.  While unlimited donations allows for greater spending on campaigns, it also maintained disclosure requirements, noting that continued registration and disclosure will be required.

Under the ruling, Speechnow and similar groups must register as a PAC and disclose contributions.  As a result, over 50 such groups popped up around the country ahead of the mid-term elections, and this election cycle saw record spending. Watchdog group noted that “significant investments from outside groups helped elect more than 200 federal candidates.”

Though both Democrats and Republicans received outside donations, it was Republicans who saw the greatest benefits of organizations’ ability to receive unlimited donations, and in turn, spend in unlimited proportions.  

The real problem isn’t lobbyists, it’s lobbying rules

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 by Drew

Thomas Spulak, writing in The Hill on Monday, made some fantastic points about problems facing the lobbying industry right now. Lobbyists are de-registering in droves, he says–a result of stricter HLOGA rules and the rush of anti-lobbyist sentiment stemming from Obama’s ongoing campaign against the industry.

Singling out lobbyists is, in fact, a source of the sense of corruption the administration is seeking to end. Spulak writes:

The singling out of lobbyists and the attendant attachment of the Scarlet L has caused individuals to seek loopholes and exceptions to avoid registration. When someone, no less than the president of the United States, says lobbyists are bad, who would want to be one? It is ironic that those who want to go beyond the letter of the law and adhere to its spirit by registering are thrown into a class subject to suspicion and disdain by the leaders of our government.

The problem, Spulak says, is that demonizing an entire profession does us all harm because there will always be lobbyists; the right to lobby is, after all, protected by the Constitution. Further, not all lobbyists are advocating for “evil corporate interests”–there are lobbyists for Boy Scouts! And whales! And poor people! And puppies! Spulak says it best:

There will always be lobbyists; they are mere advocates for interests. Certainly, not all interests are as popular as others, but shouldn’t unpopular causes have a chance to be heard? Government officials can always ignore what they hear or even refuse to meet with certain industries or interests. That has always been the case anyway. Continuing to rail against lobbyists may be good political fodder in the short term, but in the long run it creates a false sense of corruption in Washington that makes all government officials guilty by association with the bogeyman that they created.

A blog post on OMB Watch (“Greater Disclosure Reduces Sense of Corruption”) makes an excellent point to complete this discussion: instead of demonizing an industry which may have some bad actors but overall offers a necessary democratic service, let’s move towards improving the disclosure system to obviate the impulse for corruption in the first place. “The registration process is cumbersome and unevenly recorded by the Clerk of the House and the Secretary of the Senate,” OMB writes. “And don’t try getting information out of those systems … the demand should be focused on better systems of disclosure.”


Compliance Q&A: Who Has to File the LD-203?

Thursday, August 5th, 2010 by Vbhotla

Q: Who is considered a registered lobbyist for purposes of filing the LD-203 semi-annual certification?  That is, if you did lobbying a year ago but have done none during the reporting period, do you still have to certify?

A: The first question to ask yourself is: Are you still registered? That is, are you still shown on the LDA report for that particular client?If you are listed on a LDA report for a client as the lobbyist, then you must file and certify the LD-203. If you have truly done no lobbying for a client in a year, then you need to be terminated off the lobbying report.

For example, in this old screenshot from a 2008 US Chamber lobbying report, the following lobbyists are on Line 18 as having lobbied on behalf of the issues listed:

If you haven’t been marked as terminated from a lobbying report, you’re still under obligation to file the LD-203.

Have a question for Compliance Q&A? Submit your questions to

Filing Reminder: LD-203 Forms Due Today

Friday, July 30th, 2010 by Vbhotla

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 Vbhotla

LD-203 Filing Time!

All federally-registered (more on that here) lobbyists must file and certify their LD-203 form next week.

The form is due July 30, and there is no extension available.

First time filer? Take a tutorial here at the Senate’s site.

Interested in researching previous filings? Downloadable and searchable databases are here.

Take time to read the House and Senate gift and ethics rules, since you must certify that you have read, understood, and abided by those rules.

Obama caused lobbyist deregistrations! (maybe not so much)

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010 by Drew

The Washington Post ran a story this past Monday looking at the phenomenon of lobbyist deregistrations that occurred in the wake of Obama’s election and subsequent crackdown on lobbyists. Here’s the gist:

A report from November last year, jointly written by OMB Watch and the Center for Responsive Politics,  showed nearly 1,500 deregistrations during the second quarter 2009–a significant increase over the previous two years–which seemed to be a response to Obama’s election and passage of new lobbying restrictions.

Then, two weeks ago, OMB Watch and the Center for Responsive Politics released another report showing all those deregistrations may not have been a result of Obama’s election after all. The problem, they say, is that “deregistration” is a vague term, and measuring data on when and why lobbyists deregister is difficult, making it extremely hard to draw conclusions on why exactly a deregistration spike may have occurred.

Regardless, the Washington Post article explains that it’s hard to definitively say that lobbyists who have “deregistered” have stopped all advocacy activities. In the article, Dave Wenhold, president of the American League of Lobbyists, says, “Do I think these people went back to Arkansas and became farmers? No, they just weren’t doing it 20 percent anymore.” Wenhold is referring, of course, to the 20 percent trigger whereby a lobbyist must register if they spend more than 20 percent of their time on behalf of a client lobbying.

Why would some lobbyists stay under the 20 percent trigger? Because of Obama’s stricter lobbying rules? Who knows.

Are you in compliance with all the lobbying disclosure rules? Check out’s Lobbying Compliance Center to find out.

Starbucksgate is not going away

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010 by Drew

What seemed like a softball story in the New York Times last week has turned out to be a textbook case of investigative journalism. The Times has seemingly pulled back the curtain on how business is actually done in Washington.

NYT’s story about White House staffers meeting with lobbyists in coffee shops near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is causing ripples inside the beltway. Mother Jones reported yesterday that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sent a letter (PDF) to the House Oversight and Government Reform committee requesting a hearing about the matter. CREW, disappointed in the Obama administration’s failure to live up to their anti-lobbying campaign rhetoric, wants Congress to figure out how to get these coffee shop meetings on record.

We’ll see how long it takes until Congress closes this loophole with a coffee-shop-meeting-near-the-White-House-disclosure rule. When they do, you’ll be able to find it here, naturally.

Rep. Quigley’s Transparency Bill – UPDATED

Monday, May 3rd, 2010 by Vbhotla

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) recently released a bill designed to increase transparency in the U.S. Congress and in other branches of government. The Transparency in Government Act – H.R. 4983 – includes a change to the reporting requirements for federally registered lobbyists.

Some provisions of the bill include: (from Rep. Quigley’s press release on the bill)

  • Establishing new definitions for lobbyists and stricter rules governing how and with whom they meet
  • Creating a searchable, sortable, and downloadable database for earmarks, where taxpayers can see all appropriations in one place
  • Improving public access to information about members of Congress, including disclosure of financial information, travel reports, gifts, and earmark requests
  • Requiring committees to post all roll call votes and video of hearings and mark-ups online
  • Improving oversight and accuracy of (federal contracting Web site) by allowing the public to report errors and requiring audits of the information on the site
  • Instructing all FOIA requests of federal agencies be published online promptly after they are completed

The change that would be biggest for current lobbyists is a potential shorter turnaround for disclosure reporting. The bill as it currently stands would require a 72-hour turnaround on registration, would could create significant paperwork problems for some lobbyists. When GAO released their LDA Disclosure Audit, they noted that some lobbyists complained that the time for paperwork preparation was already insufficient as it stands now. UPDATED: The phrase that we originally posted, “72-hour turnaround on reporting” was misleading. The bill actually would require lobbyists to register within 72 hours of their first lobbying contact, rather than having the option to wait up to 45 days, as the law currently stands. This is a registration requirement, not a reporting requirement. We apologize for the error.

The bill also requires a study by the Comptroller General of the GAO to determine whether “non-lobbyists” (who are engaging in either lobbying under the 20% time threshold, or not directly lobbying members of Congress) should be registering. The legislation’s language suggests that its framers are suspicious of lobbyists de-registering:

“Whether and to what extent persons exerting substantial influence on the legislative process and executive branch decisionmaking are avoiding the registration and reporting requirements under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.”

It remains to be seen whether this bill will gain any traction (it is currently sitting in the House Oversight and Government Reform, Rules,  House Administration, and Judiciary Committees).  But given the Democrats’ and Obama Administrations’ emphasis on ethics and transparency, further action may be likely.

As an interesting aside,  Rep. Quigley discusses his new transparency bill and the role of lobbyists in the political process in a National Journal interview on May 1,

Quigley: “Lobbyists aren’t a bad thing. I respect that every interest has a right to be represented on the Hill by lobbyists. I tell my constituents, you may not like the pharmaceutical lobbyist or the tobacco lobbyist, but your school system has someone here, and the cancer society has someone here. People don’t understand that lobbyists advocate, educate, and inform — and that is super-important. I can hire a great staff, but lobbyists have some of the best information.”

The National Journal article is posted here (subscription required).