Posts Tagged ‘Ethics Tip’

The LD-203: Compliance for Campaign Finance Disclosure

Thursday, January 13th, 2011 by Vbhotla

Tuesday, lobbyists.info hosted the semi-annual ethics boot camp to prepare you to sign the LD-203 “under penalty of perjury.”  Here are the basic things you will need to know ahead of the January 30 deadline:

  • Every lobbyist must file the LD-203, whether you have contributions or expenditures to report or not.
  • Sole practitioners must file on behalf of the business and as an individual lobbyist.
  • Registrants include both entities that employ lobbyists and every individual listed on an LD-1  or LD-2 form.
  • The report covers July 1-December 31 2010 and must be filed electronically.
  • Contributions of $200 or more from individual registrants or PACs controlled by an individual registrant to federal candidates, leadership PACs, federal party committees AND contributions of $200 or more to presidential inaugural committee or library must be reported as FECA contributions.
  • Payments AND expenditures are subject to reporting
  • Your signature certifies that, beyond just HLOGA rules, you have read both the House and Senate Gift and Ethics rules and exceptions, and have in no way violated them.
  • If an event honors, recognizes covered official, costs are subject to disclosure on LD-203 of sponsor – but not donor unless donor participates in honoring Member

Review filings and supporting documents closely before you sign.  Remember the “perjury trap.”

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.