Posts Tagged ‘state lobbying’

Arizona Cardinals vs. Lobbying Gift Rules

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011 by Vbhotla

Pro Football Talk reports that the Arizona Cardinals offered free tickets to elected officials to “build a better relationship” with state legislators.  Other Arizona teams have called the practice “a bad idea,” and have steered clear of offering tickets to lawmakers.  While it is definitely a bad idea, it’s a bit less clear whether or not the Cardinals are in violation of state lobbying laws.

If the matter were involving federal officials, the practice would absolutely be in opposition to the HLOGA gift ban.  But in Arizona, the law states that “A principal, designated lobbyist, authorized lobbyist, lobbyist for compensation, public body, designated public lobbyist or authorized public lobbyist or any other person acting on that person’s behalf shall not make an expenditure or single expenditure for entertainment for a state officer or Generic Cialis state employee. A state officer or state employee shall not accept an expenditure or single expenditure for entertainment from a principal, designated lobbyist, authorized lobbyist, lobbyist for compensation, public body, designated public lobbyist or authorized public lobbyist or any other person acting on that person’s behalf.”

Technically, the team is not making “an expenditure” for the tickets, since the team has control over the tickets.  But there is, in theory, lost revenue that could be ascribed to expenditures.  The Cardinals have not gotten in any trouble over the gifts thus far, so perhaps the relationship-building efforts have been successful.  But for the rest of us, we should adopt the beliefs of the region’s other teams: giving event tickets to elected officials is probably a bad idea (and against the rules, according to HLOGA.)

Tuesday Ethics Tip: Election Day Edition

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010 by Vbhotla

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.

Today’s ethics tip is condensed from the Lobbying Compliance Handbook. New 2010 edition out this month!

A Look at Tax-Payer Funded Lobbying

Thursday, June 10th, 2010 by Vbhotla

The Pacific Research Institute recently put out a white paper titled “State-Level Lobbying and Taxpayers: How Much Do We Really Know?” The report looks at lobbying by tax-payer funded or partially taxpayer-funded groups. The amount of money put into state level lobbying does not reach that of the federal lobbying community, but is still significant.

An excerpt from the 92-page paper:

“There is broad and well developed research on private-sector interest groups and their associated lobbying however there is a disconcerting lack of research on government-financed or what has been called taxpayer-funded lobbying, conducted by public-sector groups. This is a critical oversight, given the stark differences between the private and public sectors.”

Here is the link to the whole white paper, which is worth a look. (note – large PDF file)

A note on PRI’s ideological stance: The Pacific Research Institute states that its mission is “to champion freedom, opportunity, and personal responsibility for all individuals by advancing free-market policy solutions.”

Weekly Lobbying News Round-Up

Friday, May 21st, 2010 by Vbhotla

The American League of Lobbyists is launching a PR campaign to help educate the public on the good things that lobbyists do. NPR has the story. Key quote from the ALL’s president Dave Wenhold: “Most people are represented by lobbyists, and they don’t even know. I mean, to give you an example: The second you get up in the morning you’re represented by a lobbyist. You go to have your toast, the wheat lobbyists love you. You have your eggs, the poultry farmers love you and their lobbyists. You get in your car, if it’s a Toyota, you have a lot of lobbyists right now.”

(See our post on Lobbying in the Public Interest, too).

Update on Illinois lobbying: a significantly lower fee structure is approved. Some background on the story here, at the ACLU’s site. (h/t: Political Activity Law).

The Compliance & Ethics Institute will host its annual conference in Chicago this year. Some topics to be covered include: building ethics and compliances systems, anti-corruption and anti-bribery systems, managing expectations, and more. Look at the full list of sessions and register here:

The anti-lobbyist mood does not extend to lobbyist checkbooks for some legislators. (At Roll Call, subscription required).

The Post seems to do one of these articles once every 3 months or so, but there’s talk that K Street is no longer the lobbying hub. Not to worry, they’re staying in the D.C. area. (Washington Post free registration required).

National Journal‘s Bara Vaida writes on the revolving door with Sen. Michael Bennet.