Posts Tagged ‘travel’

Travel Rules

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 by Brittany

It’s the summer recess for Congress, and while many are returning to their districts, they may also be traveling elsewhere for meetings. It is important for lobbyists and organizations to know what is permissible so that they do not inadvertently pay for impermissible travel. The following list shows different groups, the travel that may be paid for, and the actions that those organizations must take to get travel sponsorship approved.

Source of Payment: Lobbyist, Lobbying Firm

Payment of Travel Permitted: None.  Zilch.  Zero. Never…

Exceptions: …unless an individual lobbyist is also:

  • A relative
  • A personal friend
  • A significant other (Senate)

Source of Payment: Organizations, associations, corporations, labor unions or other entities employing or retaining a lobbyist to lobby only for the organization’s interests

Payment of Travel Permitted:

  • One-day attendance at conference or meeting; pre-approval required
  • Second day possible if approved
  • Local transportation (including in Washington, D.C.) for “widely attended event”
  • Local transportation attendant to site visit

Exceptions/Requirements:

  • Submit for pre-approval (14 days in advance for the House; 30 days in advance for the Senate)
  • Must have pre-approval in order to pay for travel
  • Local transportation for site visit or widely attended event does not require pre-approval on the travel forms

Source of Payment: Organizations, associations, corporations, labor unions or other entities not employing or retaining a lobbyist or lobbying firm

Payment of Travel Permitted:

Senate:

  • Three-day domestic trip
  • Seven-day foreign trip
  • No lobbyist participation allowed

House:

Exceptions/Requirements:

For House and Senate:

  • Submit for pre-approval (14 days in advance for House; 30 days in advance for Senate)
  • Must have pre-approval in order to pay for travel
  • Maximum stay extended for extraordinary reason only
    • Extension of trip at personal expense of Member/staffer must be approved by ethics

Source of Payment: Private higher education institutions (even those employing or retaining lobbyists)

Payment of Travel Permitted:

Senate:

  • Three-day domestic trip
  • Seven-day foreign trip
  • No lobbyist participation allowed

House:

  • Four-day continental United States (Four 24-hour periods)
  • Seven-day trip outside continental United States (Seven 24-hour periods)
  • Lobbyist may accompany Member/staffer

Exceptions/Requirements:

For House and Senate:

  • Submit for pre-approval (14 days in advance for House; 30 days in advance for Senate)
  • Must have pre-approval in order to pay for travel
  • Maximum stay extended for extraordinary reason only
  • Extension of trip at personal expense of Member/staffer must be approved by ethics committee

Source of Payment: 501(c)(3) charitable and educational organizations including those employing or retaining lobbyists

Payment of Travel Permitted:

Senate only:

  • Three-day domestic trip
  • Seven-day foreign trip
  • No lobbyist participation allowed

NOTE: House treats 501(c)(3) charitable and educational organization same as other entities, except for private universities

Requirements/Exceptions:

  • Submit for pre-approval 30 days in advance
  • Must have pre-approval in order to pay for travel
  • Maximum stay extended for extraordinary reason only
  • Extension of trip at personal expense of Member/staffer must be approved by ethics committee

For more information or to purchase the Lobbying Compliance Handbook click here.

Ethics Tip: Travel edition

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011 by Autumn

Lobbying firms and individual registered lobbyists are not permitted to sponsor any trips for Congressional members or staff unless an exception for the payment exists under the gift rules.  Typically, the only exemptions are for personal friends, relatives and significant others where significant history of the relationship can be proven.

Organizations that employ lobbyists, however, may sponsor one-day trips for members of Congress or staffers.  They may also offer local transportation for “widely attended events” or to the event site.  Ground transportation must be only occasional, and must be related to the event, not outside entertainment, and must be provided by the event sponsor, not a lobbyist.  Lobbyist involvement in the planning of the trip must be de minimis.  A 501(c)(3) organization may sponsor a multi-day trip for a senator, as long as no lobbyist accompanies the senator on any part of the trip.  There is no such multi-day provision for House representatives.

Private higher education institutions, whether they employ lobbyists or not, can provide three-day domestic trips and seven-day foreign trips, as long as staff lobbyists do not participate in the trip in any way.

Payment for travel is typically only approved to/from Washington, and not for other stopovers not related to the purpose of the trip.  Alcoholic beverages and flights on private or chartered aircrafts are not considered “reasonable expenses,” and therefore cannot be paid for by event sponsors.  Senate rules do not allow for payment of travel expenses for aides or assistants, but do allow for spouses and children to travel on the sponsor.  The House has similar provisions, but does not specify which “relative” can be paid for.

Turkey Day Tips: A Travel Ethics Crash-Course

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010 by Autumn

Today is the most traveled day of the year.  Traffic will be a nightmare, airline waits will be treacherous (especially considering the proposed boycott of airport security scanners), and everyone may be a little more uptight.  It may seem like the time to cut corners wherever possible to save time and expense, but beware of the following travel pitfalls, or you could find yourself gobbling for mercy:

  • If you’re a lobbyist and your new staffer girlfriend is coming home to meet the parents for the first time, you can NOT pay for her ticket.  If you’ve been dating awhile or are engaged, there is a “personal friend” or “significant other” (Senate only) exemption.  You will still need to get pre-approval from ethics committee if the trip will cost over $250.  The pre-approval is confidential, but very essential.
  • The new girlfriend can, however, partake in the Thanksgiving feast — as long as you have a relatively large family — because the holiday meal is a widely-attended event.
  • Make sure that any gift you give her while gone is filed on the LD-203!  (Unless of course you get engaged over the holiday, in which case fiancees are permitted to give gifts without disclosure.)
  • If using the personal friendship exemption for anything, you must be able to prove a history of gift exchange between you, not give any gifts related to any official duties, not submit any expenses for reimbursement by your employer, not count the gifts as an exemption.