Lobbying Compliance Frequently Asked Questions
   
 
   
 
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) / Stimulus act
Q: What are the restrictions on lobbyists regarding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), also known as the stimulus act?
A: The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released final guidance regarding the restrictions on communications with the executive branch related to American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds July 24. The new guidance allows lobbyists to speak with agency officials, but does restrict oral communications for registered lobbyists and non-lobbyists starting at the point when an application for funding has been submitted and ending at the point where the funding has been awarded. Exceptions apply when the communication occurs at a widely attended gathering or the inquiry is of a logistical nature, as detailed in the guidance. Communications with lobbyists are still required to be disclosed by the agency official. Previously, the Obama administration and OMB stated that registered lobbyists were only able to submit written communications regarding specific ARRA projects.
On March 20, 2009, the White House had issued a memo prohibiting personal and telephonic contacts by federally-registered lobbyists Administration officials, regarding American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. This guidance was superseded by the July 24 memo. More information on that can be found in the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 8.2 “Restrictions on Lobbying with Regard to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA)” and the chapter 8 Addendum: “Update on Lobbying Restrictions under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).” The revised memo is at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/assets/memoranda_fy2009/m09-24.pdf. See the original memo at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Memorandum-for-the-Heads-of-Executive-Departments-and-Agencies-3-20-09/.
 
Q: Where can I find additional information about the Stimulus act?
A: The website www.Recovery.gov is the official site of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, popularly known as the Stimulus Act).  Additional information about the role of lobbyists in allocating Recovery Act funds can be found in the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Chapter 8 Addendum: “Update on Lobbying Restrictions under the ARRA.”
 
Q: What steps can lobbyists take to ensure that they are complying with Recovery Act guidance?
A:

The general rule is that lobbyists and others wishing to communicate with executive branch officials regarding Recovery Act funding must do so in writing. The Office of Management and Budget limited the restriction on oral communications to the time period starting at the point at which an application is filed for a particular project in the competitive bidding process and ending when the funding is awarded. The exceptions are:

1. The inquiry is one of a purely logistical nature
2. The communication is made during the course of a widely attended gathering (this does not apply to private communications at a widely attended gathering).
3. The agency official initiates the communication
4. The communication is between two agency officials
5. The communication is between an agency official and either an elected state, local, or tribal executive or a majority leader or equivalent position in a chamber of a state legislative body

Contrary to previous guidance, this restriction on oral communications applies to registered lobbyists and non-lobbyists alike.  See the guidance that is available from the White House on talking to executive branch officials regarding Recovery Act funds. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Chapter 8 Addendum: “Update on Lobbying Restrictions under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

 
Q: Can a registered lobbyist communicate in writing with an executive branch official regarding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act?
A: Yes. In all cases where the communication is from a registered lobbyist, the agency official must disclose the communication on the agency web site within three days of either receiving or being part of the communication. However, if this involves a purely logistical question, no reporting is required. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Chapter 8 Addendum: “Update on Lobbying Restrictions under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Campaign Finance / PAC / Political Action Committee
Q: Do I have to disclose contributions to candidates for federal office?
A: Not on the LD-203, because that candidate is not a covered legislative official until he or she is actually elected. This is more a matter that would be covered by campaign finance disclosure, as required by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 1.2.3.2 “Payments and Disbursements Related to Covered Officials.”
 
Q: How should I report making a contribution to an event with more than one “honored guest”?
A: If the donor is actually participating in honoring the covered legislative branch official, then they would need to report the information fully, even if you only intended to “honor” one of the members. This would be best explained by an example: say a 501(c)(3) is having their “Congressional Honors” reception next week and they plan to present “Member of the Year” awards to one Senator and one Representative.  Each of the lobbying firms and individual lobbyists who make contributions to the (c)(3) for this event will be required to disclose those contributions on the LD-203.  This will include the date of the contribution, the amount, the payee (the charity’s name), and the names of the members being honored – both of them.  The disclosure of the charitable contribution is required because the event specifically relates to a covered official.  See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Table 3-1: “LD-203 Payments and Disbursements at a Glance.”
 
Q: If I host an “honoring” dinner, do I have to list specific members of Congress, or can I just use a committee such as the Senate Finance Committee?
A: The LD-203 requires disclosure of any payments made in honor of a covered legislative branch official. The cautious approach would be to name each member of the Committee. The spirit of the law is to disclose any activity whereby you're generating goodwill with members. Follow the spirit of the law and simply disclose all the names of all the members who were in attendance. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 1.2.3.2, “Payments and Disbursements Related to Covered Officials.”
 
Q: Our association has a PAC but our treasurer is not a lobbyist and our assistant treasurer is the lobbyist.  Do we still need to file a report for the PAC?
A: Yes, you still need to file the LD-203. The association would indicate the name of its PAC and list contributions of $200 or more from the PAC to any federal candidate, any leadership PAC, or any of the six national party committees that were made during the semi-annual reporting period. It doesn’t really matter whether or not your treasurer is a lobbyist for the purposes of the filing by the association. The individual lobbyists will also have to file regarding their own contributions.  On that separate filing, the lobbyist may have to indicate that they are the assistant treasurer of the PAC if they therefore have some control over how the PAC money is being spent. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 3.3.4 “LD-203 Report.”
   
Q: What should I disclose about PACs of which I am the treasurer?
A: You will need to disclose on your own LD-203 the PACs that you control or have established. If you serve as a treasurer of a PAC, you would list that PAC.  There is another place to disclose all contributions of $200 or more that the PAC has made to candidate committees, leadership PACs, or national party committees. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 3.3.4 “LD-203 Report.”
   
Q: What is bundling?
A: Bundling is the practice of one lobbyist gathering campaign contributions from a group of colleagues and presenting the resulting “bundle” to lawmakers. Under HLOGA, candidate committees, leadership PACs and federal party committees are required to disclose to the Federal Election Commission the names of individual lobbyists, registered lobbying entities, or PACs maintained by lobbyists by lobbying entities that donate bundled contributions of $15,000 or more. Further rules are currently being drafted by the FEC. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 3.3.4 “LD-203 Report.”
   
Q: Is co-hosting a fundraiser considered participation in a bundling activity?
A: It depends on the situation. For an individual lobbyist participating hosting a fundraiser, the bundling reporting burden actually falls on the political committee.  So, the political committee for which the lobbyist raised money as a member of the hosting committee needs to look at the FEC regulations. Since a lobbyist was one of the three people on this host committee, they would then have to determine what portion of the money raised was attributable to that lobbyist. The FEC rules are still in progress so make sure you’re up to date on the latest. The individual lobbyist only has to disclose if they wrote a personal check toward the fundraising total. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 3.3.4 “LD-203 Report.”
   
Q: What is the disclosure amount for PAC donations?
A: $200 for each political committee.  So, in other words, if you give $50 to each of six candidates, you don’t have to disclose that on your individual report.  But if you give $500 to each of six candidates, you're going to have to list all six candidates and amount of the donation. For further information on PACs and disclosure requirements, see the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 3.3.4 “LD-203 Report.”
   
Q: Are state PACs included on the LD-203, or only federal?
A: Only federal PACs are included in disclosure requirements unless the state PAC gives to federal candidates.  So it’s important that if you have an association with a variety of state PACs, if those state PACs are only giving to state candidates you don’t have to list them.  If however anyone of those state PACs made contributions to a federal candidate, a federal leadership PAC or a national party committee, then you would have to list those state PACs on your report because they contributed to one of those recipients.
 
Events / contributions / gifts
Q: Can a lobbyist buy a gift for a Congressman, a Senator, or a Congressional staffer?
A: The rule is: no gifts from lobbyists to Congressmen, Senators, or Congressional staffers. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Part II: Modern Living, Introduction (page 5-2). There are numerous detailed exceptions – such as a “personal friendship” exception – which are detailed throughout the rest of this section, and in the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Chapter 5: Food, Entertainment, and Dating.
 
Q: Can a lobbyist buy a covered official or staffer a drink at a bar?
A: The rule is that food and beverages must conform to the restrictions in place. The most common exception is the “reception exception:” “Food and beverages of nominal value, not as part of a meal.” The Lobbying Compliance Handbook, section 5.2.2 “Drinks at the Bar Rules” covers this topic extensively. A clear chart of the types of drinks which it is appropriate for a lobbyist to buy a staffer or Member of Congress is included. There are fairly complex rules on this, so cover all your bases.
 
Q: What is the difference between a gift and an award, as given to a member of congress?
A: You are allowed to give commemorative items that have minimal artistic or intrinsic value. So, for instance, you could give a plaque that says “Association X thanks Congressman Y for his 20 years of Service.” You could not, however, give a valuable sculpture with the same inscription.  The difference is that the first item – the plaque – has no artistic or intrinsic value on its own, but that the second item – the sculpture – has value on its own merit. If you give a gift that exceeds $305 in value, it has to go on the member’s financial disclosure form.  See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Table 5-5: “Gifts Allowed from Lobbyists and Lobbying Entities” for more complete guidance. The House Committee on Standards and Official Conduct also has a short booklet with a summarization of rules on their website, found at http://ethics.house.gov/Media/PDF/Ethics_Rules_Highlights_2009.pdf.
 
Q: Can covered officials take free items that are available to everyone at widely-attended events?
A: If the conference fee has been waived, they can then receive whatever items they would have gotten with the conference fee. This might include a tote bag with materials or something similar. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 5.1.2, “Exceptions to the Ethics Rules Allowing a Member or Staffer to Consume a Meal, Even if Paid for by a Lobbyist or Entity that Employs or Retains Lobbyists” for definition of widely-attended event.
   
Q: What is the “home state exemption” for gifts to members of congress?
A: Lobbyists are allowed to give gifts that meet several requirements: items must be available to constituents or visitors to his office; items must be of minimal value; the item must have been produced or grown in the Member’s home district or state.  These are not items for the member to keep for himself, but to be given out to constituents or visitors. A good example would be peanuts: a member from Georgia would be allowed to have peanuts from his home state in packages to hand out in his office. See Table 5-5: “Gifts Allowed from Lobbyists and Lobbying Entities – Home State Products.”
   
Q: Can a “home state” gift basket be given to a member even if the items are not intended to be given out?
A: Items from the basket should be available to be given out to people visiting as well as staffers or members. In the past that gift basket would probably have been given to the member under the $50 limit rules, but that is no longer legal under HLOGA. See Table 5-5: “Gifts Allowed from Lobbyists and Lobbying Entities – Home State Products.”
   
Q: How does an event qualify as “widely attended”?
A: Organizations employing lobbyists may sponsor a “widely attended event” which must contain a diverse audience of more than 25 people and must be related to a member's or staffer's official duties in order for a member or staffer to attend for free.  This is one of the exceptions to the Gift Rules of the House and Senate. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 5.1.2: “Exceptions to the Ethics Rules Allowing a Member or Staffer to Consume a Meal, Even if Paid for by a Lobbyist or Entity that Employs or Retains Lobbyists.”
   
Q: What is a “constituent event”?
A: If in Washington, DC, a constituent event (to qualify as part of the meal exception) must be: sponsored by a constituent group; part of constituent group’s regularly scheduled meeting, conference, program, trip or event; and open to constituent group’s members (not just officers or board). See page 5-8 in the Lobbying Compliance Handbook.
   
Q: What is the difference between a “reception” and a “dinner”?
A: The rule states that lobbyists and lobbying entities cannot feed members of Congress or Congressional staffers unless one of the exceptions allows it. The rules make a distinction between a “meal” and “food.” A lobbyist or lobbying entity may not buy a meal unless one of the exceptions allows it. So the determining factor is the type of food that you serve at your event. Even low cost meals such as pizza are still considered meals. Finger foods and hors d’ouevres are allowable. Typically such a reception will have such foods that could be served on a toothpick, rather than a plate. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 5.1, “The Lobbyists’ Guide to Feeding and Entertaining a Member or Staffer.”
   
Q: If I make a contribution to an event for an honored guest and this person never shows up to the actual event, how should I report that?
A: To take a cautious approach, if you made a donation to an event and the invitation listed two covered officials, you should list all the covered officials as having been honored. To take a slightly less cautious approach, you could follow-up with that event and determine who attended and only report for those that actually attended. However, you should be careful doing this, because if you are making a contribution based on an invitation that lists two people, there is no way to determine which ones of those people are going to attend. You are making that contribution with the expectation that everyone listed will attend. For the definition of what should be reported, see the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 1.2.3.2 “Payments and Disbursements Related to Covered Officials.”
   
Q: How many people are listed in Lobbyists.info?
A: There are over 25,000 Government Relations individuals listed in Lobbyists.info. Over 13,000 of them are registered lobbyists. The rest are important GR individuals at PACs, 527 Groups, Think Tanks, and government legislative affairs offices.
 
Define lobbying

Q: How is a lobbying contact defined?
A: A lobbying contact is defined as “any contact with a covered executive or legislative branch official.” Covered executive branch officials are:

1. The president
2. The vice president
3. Officers and employees of the Executive Office of the President
4. Any official serving in an Executive Level I-V position
5. Any member of the uniformed services serving at grade 0-7 or above
6. “Schedule C” Employees. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 2.2.1.2 “Lobbying Contact to a Covered Executive or Legislative Branch Official.”
 
Foreign Agents / Foreign Agents Registration Act / FARA
Q: What is the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)?
A: The law allows a foreign agent representing a foreign company to choose their form of registration.  An agent of a foreign commercial entity is exempt under FARA if the agent has engaged in lobbying activities and registers under the LDA. You can choose to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) or under FARA.  However, if the client represented is a foreign government (for instance, a foreign sovereign or a foreign political party), then you don’t have the option: you have to register under FARA. The requirements under FARA are more detailed than those under the LDA.  That was not changed by HLOGA.  See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 2.3.1.2 “Registration and Disclosure of a Client’s Foreign Interests/Affiliations” or AppendixA1: “LDA Guidance from House and Senate.”
 
Q: What are the differences between the LDA and FARA?
A: According to guidance issued by the House Ethics Committee, the technical amendments to the LDA made in 1998 reflected a determination that the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) standards are appropriate for lobbying on behalf of foreign governments and political parties, but that LDA disclosure standards should apply to other foreign lobbying. An agent of a foreign commercial entity is exempt under FARA if the agent has engaged in lobbying activities and registers under the LDA. An agent of a foreign commercial entity not required to register under the LDA (such as those not meeting the de minimis registration thresholds) may voluntarily register under the LDA. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 2.3.1.2 “Registration and Disclosure of a Client’s Foreign Interests/Affiliations.”
 
Grassroots advocacy / grassroots lobbying
Q: What is the definition of grassroots lobbying?
A: The official definition of grassroots lobbying is the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) definition: a call to action to the public or segment of the public asking them to contact a designated official, state, federal, local on a specific item government action, specific legislation, or a nomination, etc.  So, for example, if you're XYZ Association, and you ask your members to write Representative Smith on H.R. 1234, that is grassroots lobbying. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Table 2-1: “Comparison of LDA and IRC Definitions.”
 
Q: What activities are considered “grassroots”?
A: Grassroots lobbying is: “communications to the general public that refer to and reflect a view on the merits of a specific legislative proposal and a ‘call to action’ directly or indirectly encouraging legislative contact.” An example of this might include emailing all of the members of your organization with a request to contact Representative Smith on H.R. 1234. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Table 2-1: “Comparison of LDA and IRC Definitions.”
 
Q: How should I report grassroots lobbying?
A: There are two different ways.  If you are filing under the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) definitions, grassroots lobbying is not disclosed on your forms. Under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) definition of lobbying the expenses of grassroots lobbying are combined with the total reportable expenditures.  The key thing to remember is that whichever method you chose, you must use it consistently in your filing. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 2.5.1 “The LDA and the Internal Revenue Code.”
 
Q: What should we watch for when we bring association members in town to lobby on the Hill?
A: Make sure they are aware of the ethics rules, particularly pertaining to accepting food and gifts. If you have association members attending lobby days, they are typically doing so as volunteers.  This means that they do not typically have to register as lobbyists, but they should still be aware of what rules their representatives must follow, and what rules organizations that employ lobbyists have to follow. Grassroots advocacy, depending on what type of definition you are filing under, may need to be reported on your LD-2 filings. Check your filing status. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Table 2-1: “Comparison of LDA and IRC Definitions.”
 
Honest Leadership and Open Government Act (HLOGA)
Q: What is the HLOGA “coalition provision”?
A:

The coalition provision (line 25 on the form) in HLOGA requires lobbying entities to state which organizations are involved in planning and executing their lobbying activity. This has been a controversial point in HLOGA, with some arguing that it violates First Amendment protection of freedom of association. To comply with the law, associations should consider:

Listing on your LDA registration your web address (because the law uses the term “associations” as well as “coalitions”)
That web address should then contain a list of your members; perhaps the members of your lobbying or legislative committee.
On your LD-2s you would have to include those individual members – an organization, a company. These will only be listed if they 1.) provided at least $5,000 during    the quarter and 2.) actively supervised or controlled the lobbying activities. You do not have to list anyone who simply participates.

There are several different types of associated groups that are affected:

Formal Coalitions
Informal Coalitions
Associations See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 1.2.1.2 “Disclosure of Coalitions and Association Members.”
 
Q: Can you simply list entities that participate in your coalition on your website?
A: Participating members (NOT controlling members) can simply be listed on a website. That is a way of covering your bases, since these members are part of your coalition but do not contribute more than $5,000 or have a controlling role in lobbying activities. In the interests of full disclosure, list these participating members somewhere. Controlling members, on the other hand, MUST be listed on the LD-203.
 
Q: What are the penalties for non-compliance with HLOGA?
A: There are criminal penalties for wrongful statements submitted by lobbyists. Since lobbyists must certify that the information they submit is true to the best of their knowledge, a wrongful disclosure a criminal act. The statute states that “Whoever knowingly fails: (1) to correct a defective filing within 60 days after notice of such a defect by the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of the House; or (2) to comply with any other provision of the Act, may be subject to a civil fine of not more than $200,000, and whoever knowingly and corruptly fails to comply with any provision of the Act may be imprisoned for not more than 5 years or fined under title 18, United States Code, or both.” See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Appendix A-1: “LDA Guidance from House and Senate.”
 
Q: How often do we need to file reports under HLOGA?
A: There are six reports:  four quarterly reports (the LD-2) to disclose lobbying activities, and two semi-annual reports (the LD-203) about political contributions. Each individual lobbyist also files two reports (LD-203s) a year. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 1.2.2 “LD-2 Changes: Lobbying Issues, Income and Expenditure Disclosures” and Section 3.3.4 “LD-203 Report.”
 
Q: What is the difference between the semi-annual and the quarterly reports?
A: The LD-203 is a report of contributions and payments and that is filed semi-annually (July and January), not only by each registered lobbyist but also by each association or lobbying firm or corporation.  Anybody who is a lobbying registrant must file the LD-203, and each individual who is listed as a lobbyist on any of the registrations will also have to file the LD-203.  The LD-2 report is a quarterly report. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 1.2.2 “LD-2 Changes: Lobbying Issues, Income and Expenditure Disclosures.”
 
Q: What is the most important thing about HLOGA that we need to know?
A: Make sure you have a time and expenditure tracking system in place. Keep those records available for at least 6 years, so if you are asked by the IRS or GAO, you’ll be able to explain your reasoning for reporting or not reporting certain expenditures. Don’t be sloppy with your filing habits. Calculate your expenditures correctly; consistency in reporting expenditures and time is key. For a tracking system, see the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Chapter 3 “Basic How-To for an LDA Compliance System.”
 
Q: Where can I find my Senate ID number?
A: The Senate Office of Public Records keeps these records. You can see the complete list at http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/legislative/one_item_and_teasers/clientlist_parent.htm.
 
Q: Should we educate our board as well as our staff about complying with HLOGA?
A: Yes, it is important that everyone understand that this law is far reaching and it can affect them.  For instance, board members of any association or organization that employs or retains lobbyists cannot be reimbursed by the association or the organization for expenses associated with taking a member or staffer to lunch.  It is the organization or company itself which is precluded for making those kinds of payments. So you can see how the rules affecting the company will have an effect on board members as well. Read about how to train employees on HLOGA rules in the Lobbying Compliance Handbook Section 3.3.6.2, “Ethics Training for Compliance with LD-203 Reporting.”
 
Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA)
Q: What is the Lobbying Disclosure Act?
A: The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (LDA) required disclosure of lobbyists and more transparency of contacts, issues and money. There were no significant penalties for non-compliance, and no audit powers assigned. LDA is still in effect, but it takes a vastly different form, having been amended by the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 (HLOGA). For more background on the LDA, see the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 1.1 “The History of the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.”
 
Q: What changes did HLOGA make to the LDA?
A: There are now quarterly reports of lobbying income or expenditures. The threshold amounts of lobbying triggers are reduced: $3,000/quarter income triggers reporting; $11,500/quarter expenditures triggers reporting. Reporting prior government service now covers twenty years.  Disclosure of applicable members of coalitions and associations is now required. Every lobbyist and lobbying entity must file semi-annual certification of ethics compliance and disclosure of contributions and payments. For detailed information on these changes, see the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 1.2 “Overview of the changes to LDA enacted in HLOGA.”
 
 
LD-1 / LD-2
Q: Who needs to file an LD-1 form?
A: An LD-1 is used by lobbying firms to register clients and by organizations employing in-house lobbyists to register themselves. The Lobbying Disclosure Act requires this to be filed with the Secretary of the Senate within 45 days of either the hiring date of a lobbyist to make a lobbying contact or when a lobbyist makes a second lobbying contact. Changes to this under HLOGA can be seen in the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 1.2.1 “LD-1: Lobbying Registration.”
 
Q: Who needs to file an LD-2 form?
A: An LD-2 is used by any organization that is registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act to either: a) report the amount of income that a firm received from each of its separate clients or b) report the amount of expenditures that an organization employing its own lobbyists spent in relation to its lobbying activities. For changes to this form under HLOGA, see the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 1.2.2 “LD-2 Changes: Lobbying Issues, Income and Expenditure Disclosures.”
 
Q: When are LD-2 filings due?
A: This form is required to be filed quarterly by the 20th of April (for the period of Jan. 1-March 31), July (for the period of April 1-June 30), October (for the period of July 1-Sept. 30), and January (for the period of Oct. 1-Dec. 31), unless that date falls on a Sunday or a holiday. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbooks, Section 1.2.2 “LD-2 Changes: Lobbying Issues, Income and Expenditure Disclosures.”
 
Q: Can I remove a lobbyist from my filing once it’s been registered?
A: Yes.  The LD-2 contains a line on which you can make “terminations” to the individuals currently registered to lobby for a client. On line 23, the form states that you can list the “name of each previously reported individual who is no longer expected to act as a lobbyist for the client.”  If you list the name of individuals who do not expect to do any lobbying in the future, this “terminates” their relationship with the client, from a legal standpoint. If six months later, they are again contracted to lobby on behalf of that client, they should be re-added to the form. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 2.4.3 “Changes to Previously Filed Information.”
   
Q: Can I use the LDA definitions to file my tax returns?
A: No. You must use the tax code definitions. If you want to simplify your paperwork by using the same method to file your LDA reports, you can do that.  But you don’t have a choice regarding tax filing and the tax law. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 2.5.1 “The LDA and the Internal Revenue Code.”
   
Q: Can lobbying registrants decide which type of filing (LDA v. Internal Revenue Code) they want to use?
A: The LDA allows companies, associations, and non-profit organizations to choose whether to track its lobbying activities in accordance with the IRC or the LDA. HLOGA did not change this. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 2.5.1 “The LDA and the Internal Revenue Code.”
   
Q: How should I determine which type of filing to do?
A: There are trade-offs and benefits to each method, if you have the ability to choose. LDA definitions take a stricter view of grassroots lobbying, while IRC definitions are looser. The choice is a strategic one. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 2.5 “LDA Reporting for Entities Reporting Lobbying Expenditures.” See also Table 2-1: “Comparison of LDA and IRC Definitions.”
   
Q: How do I amend a form once I have filed it?
A: You can make changes on your LD-2 form. For example, if you change addresses, or start lobbying on new issues, you can make those amendments on your quarterly LD-2. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 2.4.3, “Changes to Previously Filed Information.”
   
Q: What’s the best way to keep track spent lobbying?
A: First, there will be some people that you know spend over 20% of their time in lobbying; those people will be filing anyway, and it won’t be hard to track them. Next, figure out which employees don’t do anything at all in the lobbying arena (remember to look at time issue-researching, etc). Those are typically also easy to track.  The people between those two extremes then need to start keeping close tabs on what they are doing on an hourly basis. It will be a little tricky at first, but simply using whatever calendar they prefer: Daytimer, Outlook, or Blackberry can help track the number of hours per day they spend on anything related to lobbying activities.  This can be done at the end of the day for maybe a period of three or four weeks.  At the end of the month, look at that data and decide whether you are correctly tracking your time, or if you need to put a better system into place. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 3.3.6.1, “Timekeeping and Issue Recording Training.” For a sample time tracking sheet, see Appendix E4 (for IRC filers) and F4 (for LDA filers).
   
Q: Does the disclosure of state and local government clients on the LD-1 include tribal governments as well?
A: The actual statute states that you have to indicate whether your client is a unit of a local or state government or any entity established by a local or state government.  So presumably, it does not include any specific reference to tribal governments.  You may want to seek further counsel, especially because the House and Senate have different definitions. Under House rules, tribal governments are not considered entities of government.  Under Senate rules, tribal governments are considered the same as a state and local government.  Also, under the IRC, “Indian tribal governments” are considered to be local governments. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Appendix D “IRS Guidance & Definitions.”

 
LD-203
Q: What is an LD-203 form?
A: An LD-203 is a semi-annual filing that is required of every registered lobbyist, as well as each lobbying entity registered under the LDA. This form discloses political contributions and certifies compliance with House and Senate ethics rules. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 1.2.3 “LD-203: New Individual Filings by Lobbyists and Entities.”
 
Q: Who needs to file an LD-203 form?
A: ncome and expenditure amounts are “triggered” at a certain level, depending on whether the organization retains clients (income) or employs its own in-house lobbyists (expenditures). Once you cross that threshold, you must file the LD-203 form.

If retaining clients, one person must:
• Make more than one lobbying contact and
• Spend more than 20% of time on lobbying activities
• Additionally, organization must receive more than $3,000 in lobbying income in quarter

If employing lobbyists for own issues, one person must:
• Make more than one lobbying contact and
• Spend more than 20% of time on lobbying activities
• Additionally, organization must spend more than $11,500 on lobbying activities in quarter

See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 3.3.4, “The LD-203 Report.”
 
Q: How do you file an LD-203 form?
A:
Get acquainted with the Senate website: http://senate.gov/pagelayout/legislative/g_three_sections_with_teasers/lobbyingdisc.htm. You can get all the forms and information you need there. A step-by-step walk-through of the form is included in the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 3.3.4, “The LD-203 Report,” and below:
1: List the name and lobbying address of the registrant.  (Lines 1 & 2)
a. Normally an association or company will list its Washington, D.C. address.
b. If the principal place of business is in another location, then you would list that (maybe the home office of the company would be listed).  (Line 3)
2: List the name of the contact for purposes of receiving inquiries. This person will answer any questions about the report from the Secretary of the Senate, the Clerk of the House or the Government Accountability Office.  (Line 4)
3: List your Senate and House ID number.  (Lines 5 & 6)
a.Those are different numbers from the password for accessing your account.
4: Fill in the name of the client. If you’re filing on behalf of an entity that employs lobbyists, you would check the box for self.  (Line 7)
a. Do not check this box if you are lobbying as a contract lobbyist or a lobbying firm on behalf of another client.
5: Line 8 is just a year / quarter box; Line 9 is reports if this is an amendment of a previous report; Line 10 reports whether this is a termination report.
6: If you had no lobbying activity during the quarter, (defined as: less than $5,000 in expenditures during the quarter), then check “no lobbying activity.” (Line 11)
a. Unless you’re planning to not have any in the future, you should check that and continue to file.
7: For organizations, you will then list your expenses rounded to the nearest $10,000.
8: Page 2: list your lobbying activity. Issue code and then specific lobbying issue.  (Lines 15 & 16)
9: Then list which legislative branches and federal agencies you contacted. You do not have to list specific offices. (Line 17)
10: Then list the name of each individual who acted as a lobbyist in this issue area. Here, you only list employees who are lobbyists. (Line 18)
11: If you have foreign entities who are affiliated with the company or the association, the definition of affiliate for these purposes is an ownership of 20% or more in the company and that they also actively participate by paying 5000 or more during the quarter to the lobbying activities of the registrant.
a. If you have an affiliated foreign entity, you must identify them and state the percentage of ownership they have in the company and their direct interest in the lobbying activities or the issues that you’ve listed. (Line 19)
12: Clean up your past registrations for any individuals that are no longer acting as lobbyists; (Line 23 “Lobbyist Update”)
a. If someone is still working for you but is no longer employed to lobby, put a memo in your personal file to that effect, so that you have documentation.
If you previously have been lobbying on a particular issue and that is no longer the case, note that on the form.
 
Q: Is the ID number for the LD-203 the same one that you use for the LD-2?
A: LD-203 is for two different types of filers: one is the organization, which will file using the password and ID that they use for the LD-2 (same Senate number).  The other one is for each individual registered lobbyist, and they will have to have their own user ID and password. For more on the filing process, see the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Chapter 2 “Back to LDA Basics – Registration and Reporting.”
 
Q: Can I file from my home computer?
A: Probably. On the lobbying disclosure site, you have to identify which computers will be used.  If you are going to have more than one person or computer with access to the filing form, make sure to work that out before the filing deadline.
 
Non-profit lobbying
Q: How should our 501 (c)(3) organization report board members’ contributions when we file?
A: While 501(c)(3) organizations cannot make political contributions, they can be involved in certain lobbying activities. A board member of a 501 (c)(3) can participate in these activities.  This would not make them lobbyists, unless there is something else that would trigger a need to register as a lobbyist. If a federally registered lobbyist is a member of the board of a 501 (c)(3) organization and participates in that organization’s event, in the capacity of board member, at which a congressman or senator is honored, that does not need to be disclosed.
 
Q: What is a Form 990?
A: All non-profits have to file Form 990, a type of tax return, to track and disclose their lobbying expenditures. This is filed whether you’re a trade association, a labor union, a 501(c)(4) grass-root social welfare organization, or a charity under 501(c)(3) of the tax code. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 2.5.1 “The LDA and the Internal Revenue Code.”
 
Q: Can a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization sponsor travel for members of congress or congressional staffers?
A: Yes, although there are specific guidelines on the amount of time that is appropriate, and the rules differ for Senate and House members. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Table 6-2 “Travel Rules at a Glance.”
 
Q: Can a non-profit make a choice between the lobbying definition used by the LDA and the one used by the IRC?
A: Yes, Congress allows organizations that have to track their lobbying expenditures in accordance with the tax code to use that format with their LDA reporting. You may therefore choose whether you want to just maintain one system for tracking and reporting lobbying expenditures and whether you want to do both. There are pros and cons for both types of filing. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section
   
Q: When I decide to use one definition (LDA v. IRC) over the other one, is that decision binding in the future, or can it be changed on a year-to-year basis?
A: It is not binding and you can change it.  It would be cumbersome to change it back and forth and back and forth, because you would be changing a lot of what you are tracking. But it is a choice that each organization has to make. If you decide to change, you simply notify the proper people on your LD-2.  See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section
 
Tracking time and expenditures:
Q: How is time calculated or reported for electronic contact on issues ?
A: The same way as if you made a phone call or wrote a letter.  The time spent is what counts for purposes of tracking. You should hopefully have a system in place for tracking time and ensuring that those who spend 20% or more of their time on lobbying are filing registrations. If you’re sending emails, be sure to include time spent and money spent on list maintenance, software development, etc. It’s really a matter of paying attention to how you spend your time and money. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Section 2.5.3 “Tracking and Reporting Lobbying Expenditures.”
 
Travel
Q: Can a lobbyist or entity employing or retaining lobbyists provide travel for members of Congress or Congressional staffers?
A: No. No travel may be paid for by lobbyists or lobbying firms. Registered foreign agents are treated exactly the same as lobbyists for purposes of the travel and gift rules. See the Lobbying Compliance Handbook, Chapter 6: “The Travel Section.”
 
Q: Can I call the Ethics Committee to get advice on specific travel situations?
A: Yes, you can always call them and ask for advice on specific issues, and you should call them if you have specific concerns.  However, on travel, there is a settled mechanism for pre-approval, and you should use that as much as possible. See www.senate.gov for more information; form available at http://ethics.senate.gov/downloads/pdffiles/private%20sponsor%20travel%20certification%20form.pdf.
 
Troubled Asset Relief Program / TARP / Bail-out
Q: What are the restrictions on lobbyists regarding Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), also known as bailout funding?
A: The Treasury Department issued guidelines on September 10 for communications between Treasury officials and outside individuals regarding TARP funding. The rules are similar to the Office of Management and Budget's guidelines for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). All communications between any outside person and a Treasury official regarding pending applications for Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) funding are banned. Oral or written communications that do not advocate for a particular policy or application are acceptable. Any communications between outside persons and Treasury officials regarding EESA funding which are of a purely logistical nature are unrestricted. Public communications on EESA questions at widely attended gatherings (defined in the guidance) are also unrestricted.
There are no additional restrictions on federally-registered lobbyists wishing to communicate with Treasury officials regarding EESA funding. However, any communication on this matter between a federally-registered lobbyist and a Treasury official will be documented and disclosed on the Treasury website within 3 days of its occurrence. The complete guidance can be found at: http://www.financialstability.gov/ (PDF file).  See also Appendix M12 (added September 21, 2009) in the Lobbying Compliance Handbook.