Important Recent Developments on Lobbyist PACs, Obama Executive Order and LDA Registration
Lobbyist PACs Must Amend FEC Statements of Organization by March 30, 2009
As part of the Federal Election Commission's new lobbyist bundling disclosure rules, any federal PAC "established" or "controlled" by a registered lobbyist (an individual or entity required to register or be listed under the Lobbying Disclosure Act) must amend its FEC Form 1 Statement of Organization by March 30, 2009. To amend its FEC Form 1, a PAC must check a box on the Form that indicates it was "established" or is "controlled" by a registered lobbyist.
Additionally, the FEC recently issued an "Explanations and Justifications" document that explains the new lobbyist bundling disclosure rules in greater detail. Among other things, the document clarifies that: (1) the new disclosure rules do not apply to non-lobbyist employees of LDA-registrants; (2) reporting political committees have considerable discretion in deciding how much of a contribution is "credited" to a registered lobbyist; and (3) contributions received through an event hosted or co-hosted by a lobbyist are not necessarily "bundled" and disclosed under the new rules.
Obama Executive Order Interpreted to Allow Attendance at Charity Events
On February 11, 2009, the Office of Government Ethics released Guidance on Executive Order 13490, the Executive Order issued in January by President Obama imposing new ethics requirements on full-time, non-career Executive Branch appointees (including a prohibition on accepting gifts from lobbyists). The Guidance explains that the "lobbyist gift ban" does not apply to gifts from 501(c)(3) charitable organizations or from employees of media organizations, even if such charitable or media organizations employ lobbyists, so long as the gifts are otherwise permitted by the Executive Branch gift rules. The gift ban exemption for charitable organizations and media organizations does not apply if the employee offering the gift is a registered lobbyist.
LDA Registration and Reporting Financial Thresholds Increased
On February 3, 2009, the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Representatives issued revised Lobbying Disclosure Act guidance. This newest version of the LDA guidance reflects the increased LDA registration and reporting financial thresholds, but is otherwise identical to the guidance issued on January 16, 2009. Under the increased thresholds, organizations that employ in-house lobbyists are exempt from LDA registration if they incur less than $11,500 in lobbying expenses during a calendar quarter. Lobbying firms and self-employed lobbyists who earn less than $3,000 in income for lobbying during a calendar quarter from a particular client are exempt from registering for that client. The previous thresholds were less than $10,000 in lobbying expenses for organizations and less than $2,500 in lobbying income for firms.
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