April 4, 2022 •
April Compliance Now | Employee Personal Political Contributions
Every week we discuss the articles from lobbycomply.com and see which ones are opened the most often. No question about it, Ask the Experts—Employee Personal Political Contributions is the #1 blog post…Every single week.
The question is easy—”Before I can make a political contribution using my own funds, my employer requires that I obtain permission first. Can my employer legally do this?”
As is the answer—Yes.
Employers may require employees to seek preapproval before making personal political contributions. Not only can your employer require this, but it’s also smart business to do so. Employers may even require preapproval from family members of employees.
This preapproval requirement has evolved because of the increased number of jurisdictions enacting pay-to-play laws. A seemingly innocuous contribution by an employee could result in the loss of government contracts, fines, and a ban on future contracting. Criminal sanctions may apply when repeated violations occur. By requiring pre-approval, your employer can properly vet the contribution for compliance with a jurisdiction’s pay-to-play law, including disclosure requirements.
In most jurisdictions, employees covered by pay-to-play laws include officers, partners, directors, senior management, salespersons, and their spouses and dependent children. In Pennsylvania and Kentucky, all employees are covered in the instance of a no-bid contract.
Requiring preclearance of employee personal political contributions is certainly preferable than imposing a ban on employee contributions, which could result in a violation of applicable labor laws. Various jurisdictions bar employers from retaliating against employees for engaging in political activities, which can include everything from participating in a political rally to making campaign contributions. Even though an employer can require preapproval, an employer cannot directly or indirectly affect an individual’s employment by means of discrimination or threat of discrimination based on the individual’s personal political contributions.
We have a busy election year ahead of us…and it continues until November 2024. Protect the company and ask before making political contributions. As I always say, this is not an issue where you can ask for forgiveness first…Obtain permission before proceeding. I suggest you always plan your contributions before saying YES to the candidates calling and sending invitations. Make sure you do not exceed the limitation in the jurisdiction.
If you have questions about this, give me a call. I have a detailed Excel chart detailing my contributions so I know how much I have given per election. In fact, Nola Werren on my staff has that spreadsheet because she will let me know if I am exceeding the limit…I think my husband, John Chames, would do the same, but definitely in a louder tone!!!!!
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.