There has been lots of talk recently about lobbyists’ campaign contributions to state-level candidates. For example, the backlash one Tennessee lobbyist received after donating to a gubernatorial candidate’s campaign and the interest in the amount of money donated by PACs to Alabama governor-hopefuls. Rules on contributions by lobbyists to these campaigns vary from state to state.
The good news is, thanks to guidelines on LD-203 disclosure released June 2009 by the House Office of the Clerk and Secretary of the Senate, these state and local-level campaign contributions do not trigger disclosure on a lobbyist’s LD-203 form. Because these candidates do not register campaign donations with the FEC, any amount a lobbyist contributes to said campaigns is exempt from LD-203 disclosure.
Other exceptions to LD-203 reporting requirements include:
- Donations to an entity on which a covered legislative or executive branch official serves as an honorary board member with no vote in board affairs,
- Contributions to a charity established by a covered official prior to his/her term in the covered office,
- Contributions to a charity to which a covered official makes only “de minimus” donations, and
- Costs related to sponsorship of a multi-candidate debate.
Though campaign contributions by lobbyists can be virtually unregulated in some states like Texas, it is still advised that lobbyists tread lightly when working on behalf of candidates at the state and local levels. Candidates are increasingly under fire for accepting special interest money, making them reluctant to be associated with government relations personnel.
“Nobody wants the Brooks Brothers Brigade out there campaigning for you,” Democratic lobbyist John Michael Gonzalez told a Roll Call staffer.