June 6, 2017 •

Ask the Experts – Does the 5% de minimus Rule Apply to your LD-2 Quarterly Report?

Q. We file our federal LD-2 quarterly lobbying reports under the IRC definitions.  Does the IRC 5 percent de minimus rule apply to capturing reportable expenditures on our quarterly LD-2 disclosure? A. In short, yes, but with a caveat.  If your […]

Q. We file our federal LD-2 quarterly lobbying reports under the IRC definitions.  Does the IRC 5 percent de minimus rule apply to capturing reportable expenditures on our quarterly LD-2 disclosure?

A. In short, yes, but with a caveat.  If your organization has opted to compile lobbying expenditures using Method B or Method C, the 5 percent de minimus rule applies.  As a frame of reference, the IRC allows taxpayers an exception for including the time of individuals who spend less than 5 percent of their time engaged in lobbying activities as defined by the IRS…

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Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc. Send your questions to experts@stateandfed.com.

We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or email with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers and information. Our replies are not legal advice, rather analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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March 1, 2016 •

Ask the Experts – Should we register if we have a federal lobbyist?

Q. For a number of years, our association has hired outside lobbying firms to lobby on our behalf. I was under the impression that because they registered and reported their lobbying activities for us, we didn’t need to register. Based […]

Rebecca South profileQ. For a number of years, our association has hired outside lobbying firms to lobby on our behalf. I was under the impression that because they registered and reported their lobbying activities for us, we didn’t need to register. Based on a recent conversation, I understand this may not be the case and we may need to register the association itself as a federal registrant. Can you tell me the guidelines in this regard?

A. Thanks for your question. This is a consideration that can often be overlooked when determining the need to register at the federal level. There is no specific exception outlined in the registration requirements that would negate an organization from having to register if it hires outside consultants that registers and reports their activity on behalf of their client. Essentially, if your organization meets the three registration thresholds, you need to register without regard for whether your outside consultants are also registered. The three criteria are:

  1. An organization must have at least one employee who spends 20 percent or more of his or her time engaged in lobbying activities. This includes time working and coordinating with your consultant about your lobbying initiatives and also includes background work done in association with a lobbying effort;
  2. That same employee must have two or more lobbying contacts. There is no time frame in which the two contacts have to occur. The two contacts could be a year apart from each other but once the second contact has been made, this threshold has been satisfied; and
  3. An organization must spend $12,500 or more on lobbying activity during a three month period. Expenditures include payments made to outside consultants and membership organizations that are allocated toward lobbying efforts. In addition, compensation, expenses, and overhead associated with any and all lobbying activity that is occurring within the organization must be calculated for purposes of determining if this threshold has been met.

If your association meets these three requirements, you need to register and begin reporting your internal activities on a quarterly basis. Your outside consultants will also continue to report the activity in which they engage on your behalf.

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You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: experts@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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October 6, 2015 •

Ask the Experts – Federal Post-Employment Restrictions

Q. We recently hired a lobbyist that is coming to our company directly from spending a number of years as a Senate staffer.  What restrictions should we be aware of as her new employer in terms of who she can […]

Rebecca South profileQ. We recently hired a lobbyist that is coming to our company directly from spending a number of years as a Senate staffer.  What restrictions should we be aware of as her new employer in terms of who she can contact on the Hill?

A. Both the House and the Senate have post-employment restrictions for certain individuals leaving their employment on the Hill.  Importantly, the House and Senate ethics committees will discuss with the staffer prior to his or her departure the restrictions under which he or she must operate.  That said, as her new employer you should definitely be aware of what restrictions are applicable to her situation so neither the company nor she violates the rules.

For the Senate, senior staff (currently defined as individuals whose annual salary is $130,500 or more) are subject to a one-year, Senate-wide ban.  Essentially, senior staff leaving the Senate may not lobby the entire Senate for one year following their departure – this includes lobbying contact with personal, committee, and leadership offices.  Staff making less than $130,500 a year are subject to a one year ban from lobbying their particular office – whether personal, committee, or leadership office.

The House restriction for senior staff is a one year ban from lobbying the particular office for which the former staffer worked and there is no ban in the House for staffers making less than $130,500.

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You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: experts@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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April 14, 2015 •

Ask the Experts – When Is Federal Registration Warranted?

Q. Our organization is under the impression that we don’t have to register as lobbyists at the federal level if we keep our lobbying activity isolated to our internal employees.  I don’t think this is accurate.  Can you let me […]

Rebecca South profileQ. Our organization is under the impression that we don’t have to register as lobbyists at the federal level if we keep our lobbying activity isolated to our internal employees.  I don’t think this is accurate.  Can you let me know the registration requirement for federal lobbying?

A. You are correct to be skeptical of this viewpoint.  Keeping lobbying activity isolated to in-house personnel does not impact the need to register.  Registration at the federal level is based on three criteria.  All three must be met in order to warrant registration, or, stated differently, registration is required when all three criteria are met.  The criteria are:

  1. An organization spends or is expected to spend at least $12,500 on lobbying activity during a quarterly period;
  2. An organization has at least one employee who spends 20 percent of his or her time engaged in lobbying activity; and
  3. That same 20 percent employee makes more than one lobbying contact.

When considering whether the monetary threshold has been met, all expenses must be considered, including, compensation and reimbursed expenses associated with lobbying activities of all employees, overhead, payments to outside lobbyists, and the portion of any dues paid to outside membership organizations that are allocated toward lobbying.  Likewise, when determining whether an individual employee meets the 20 percent standard, all time engaged in any activity that is intended to support lobbying contacts must be considered including background and preparatory work, research, strategy sessions and conversations.

Once your organization meets all three thresholds, registration with the House and Senate is required within 45 days.  As a federal registrant, quarterly activity reporting is required as well as semiannual contribution reporting.

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You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: experts@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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December 2, 2014 •

Ask the Experts – LD-2 Reports and Nondeductible Lobbying Expenses for Federal Income Taxes

Q. For federal income tax purposes, our organization has been using the aggregate amounts reported on our quarterly LD-2 lobbying activity report as our nondeductible lobbying expenses.  Can the expenditures we compile for LDA reporting be used interchangeably for tax […]

Rebecca South profileQ. For federal income tax purposes, our organization has been using the aggregate amounts reported on our quarterly LD-2 lobbying activity report as our nondeductible lobbying expenses.  Can the expenditures we compile for LDA reporting be used interchangeably for tax purposes?

A. In a word: maybe – It depends on the method of LDA reporting you’ve opted to follow.  If you file your LD-2 report using the IRC definitions (method C), then the number you compile and report on your LD-2 can be used interchangeably for tax purposes.  However, if you compile and report your quarterly lobbying expenditures using LDA definitions (method A), the results will not accurately reflect nondeductible lobbying expenses as defined by the IRS.  Because the definition of “lobbying” differs between the LDA and the IRC, the two compilation methods will produce very different results.  If you use LDA definitions to compile your quarterly LD-2, your organization must employ a second process by which to determine your nondeductible lobbying expenses for tax purposes.  A lobbying registrant can determine each year which method they will use to compile the LD-2 report.  Once a method has been selected, a registrant must use that method for all four quarterly reports during that year.

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You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: experts@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

 

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October 23, 2014 •

Great Election Insights at 2014 WASRG Summit

State and Federal Communications was the sole speaker sponsor of the Washington Area State Relations Group (WASRG) Annual Summit on October 21, 2014. The Summit took place at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C. and featured two political campaign consultants from […]

Rebecca South introducing the moderator and speakers at the WASRG Summit 2014.
Rebecca South introduces the moderator and speakers at the WASRG Summit 2014.

State and Federal Communications was the sole speaker sponsor of the Washington Area State Relations Group (WASRG) Annual Summit on October 21, 2014. The Summit took place at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C. and featured two political campaign consultants from each side of the aisle – Katie Packer Gage and Erica Prosser.

The off-the-record discussion focused on the upcoming midterm elections and how the elections might impact states as well as how the mid-terms will set the stage for the Presidential election in 2016. Both speakers agreed there have been surprises in some races around the country and with 2 weeks left, don’t discount a shocker or two yet to come.

WASRG is an association of DC-based government relations professionals with primary responsibility for representing their firms/companies/issues at the state and local level. State and Federal Communications has been a long-time supporter of the organization and its programming.

For information on joining WASRG, you can contact them at information@WASRG.com.

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June 16, 2014 •

Ask the Experts – LDA Tracking and Reporting

Q. To streamline LDA tracking and reporting, our company includes 100 percent of our in-house lobbyists’ compensation as lobbying on our quarterly report.  Is this a reasonable approach? A. The LDA does not contain any special tracking requirements for reporting […]

Rebecca South profileQ. To streamline LDA tracking and reporting, our company includes 100 percent of our in-house lobbyists’ compensation as lobbying on our quarterly report.  Is this a reasonable approach?

A. The LDA does not contain any special tracking requirements for reporting expenditures.  Registrants employing in-house lobbyists are required to provide a “good faith estimate of the total expenses” of their lobbying activities.  With the “good faith” standard as the back drop, an organization should determine whether including 100 percent of their lobbyists’ compensation meets that standard.  Aside from the tax implications of including 100percent of compensation, typically, there is some time that is spent during the course of a quarter that is not defined as lobbying and varies from month to month depending on what issues are being addressed.  Therefore, providing a good faith estimate, in most cases, will require a registrant to implement some sort of tracking process to meet the standard.  In the event of an audit, the ability to demonstrate reasonable efforts to track and capture lobbying activity, and only lobbying activity, is an additional benefit.

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You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: marketing@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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December 6, 2013 •

Ask the Experts – Outside Organizations and Estimating Your Lobbying Expenditures

Q. Our company, a federal registrant, is a member of numerous outside organizations.  We join many of these organizations for reasons other than their lobbying/government relations activities.  Even so, some of the organizations allocate a percentage of dues toward lobbying […]

Rebecca South profileQ. Our company, a federal registrant, is a member of numerous outside organizations.  We join many of these organizations for reasons other than their lobbying/government relations activities.  Even so, some of the organizations allocate a percentage of dues toward lobbying activities.  If we are not actively engaged in supporting the organization’s lobbying efforts, do we still need to include the lobbying allocation in our good faith estimate of lobbying expenditures.

A. Yes. The disclosure requirement in this regard is not dependent on the rationale behind why a registrant joins any given membership organization.  The reporting mandate requires every registrant to track and ascertain what portion, if any, of all dues it pays is used for lobbying activities.  The registrant is then required to include those allocations in their total lobbying expenses reported.

You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: marketing@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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July 3, 2013 •

Ask the Experts – Capturing Non-lobbyist Time

Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc.

Rebecca South
Federal Compliance Associate Rebecca South

Q. As a federal lobbying registrant, we have some employees who engage in a minimal amount of lobbying during the course of the quarter.  What is our obligation to identify these employees and report expenditures associated with their activities?

A. Under federal lobbying disclosure requirements, registrants are required to include expenditures (i.e. compensation, reimbursed expenses etc…) associated with any employee’s lobbying activity during the quarter.  However, registrants are not required to identify specific employees (by listing them on the LD-2 report) or the issues on which they lobbied unless they meet the statutory definition of a “lobbyist”—which includes spending at least 20% of their time engaged in reportable lobbying activities.

House and Senate guidance is consistent in advising that registrants need to make a good faith effort to capture and include the expenditures associated with non-lobbyist employees.  Establishing a regular process and sound methodology by which to identify lobbying activities of this nature is critical to demonstrating adherence to the good faith standard in this regard.

You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: marketing@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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July 3, 2013 •

Ask the Experts – Capturing Non-lobbyist Time

Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc.

Rebecca South
Federal Compliance Associate Rebecca South

Q. As a federal lobbying registrant, we have some employees who engage in a minimal amount of lobbying during the course of the quarter.  What is our obligation to identify these employees and report expenditures associated with their activities?

A. Under federal lobbying disclosure requirements, registrants are required to include expenditures (i.e. compensation, reimbursed expenses etc…) associated with any employee’s lobbying activity during the quarter.  However, registrants are not required to identify specific employees (by listing them on the LD-2 report) or the issues on which they lobbied unless they meet the statutory definition of a “lobbyist”—which includes spending at least 20% of their time engaged in reportable lobbying activities.

House and Senate guidance is consistent in advising that registrants need to make a good faith effort to capture and include the expenditures associated with non-lobbyist employees.  Establishing a regular process and sound methodology by which to identify lobbying activities of this nature is critical to demonstrating adherence to the good faith standard in this regard.

You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: marketing@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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February 12, 2013 •

Ask the Experts – Tracking Non-lobbyist Time

Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc.

Rebecca South
Federal Compliance Associate Rebecca South

Q. We’ve had some disagreement internally within our organization – please help. As a federal registrant employing in-house lobbyists, are we only required to report the time and expenses associated with our “registered” lobbyists.

A. It’s a good question. The answer to which often gets lost amongst the efforts to report lobbyists’ activities. Federal registrants are certainly required to make best efforts to track, capture, and report the lobbying activities and expenses of those employees who meet the 20% threshold standard (lobbyist employee). In addition, registrants are equally required to track, capture, and report expenditures associated with employees who do not meet the 20% threshold but still engage in lobbying activities during the course of the quarter (non-lobbyist employees.) The names of non-lobbyist employees are not included on the report and neither is information related to what issues they addressed or contacts they made. That said, the Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House have consistently advised that all employee time spent engaged in lobbying activities should be included when determining an organization’s lobbying expenses, even when the employee(s) does not meet the statutory definition of being a lobbyist. In line with the best efforts standard, then, it is important to have in place reasonable, demonstrable processes to capture both lobbyist and non-lobbyist activities.

You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: marketing@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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September 10, 2012 •

Ask the Experts – Election Year Compliance

Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc.

Rebecca South
Federal Compliance Associate Rebecca South

Q. Are there any additional compliance requirements of which to be aware because this is a Presidential election year?

 A. In a word, no. However, given the substantial increase in federal, state, and local contributions, it is important to keep in mind some compliance basics during an election year:

  • Be aware of what restrictions exist in a specific jurisdiction regarding pre-election contributions and/or communications. Several states have laws restricting contributions within a certain time period of an election. Federally, there are time-period restrictions associated with election communications;
  • Track reportable contributions that may only come into play during an election year. For instance, at the federal level, contributions made to an inaugural committee are reportable on the LD-203;
  • The same gift laws apply leading up to an election as the rest of the year. Understand the definition of a gift as it relates to a “covered official” from any given jurisdiction and don’t violate it because you happen to be attending an election-related activity, including conventions;
  • Most jurisdictions have personal, corporate and/or PAC contribution limits. Be diligent in monitoring contributions so as not to surpass those limits;
  • Don’t rely on a “covered official” from any jurisdiction to know his/her jurisdiction’s limits or restrictions. Be proactive in determining restrictions ahead of time; and
  • Consider implementing “Election Year” guidelines within your organization to keep everyone on the same page.

In an election year, the increase in activity coupled with jurisdictional differences can make compliance a little trickier. By following these fundamental guidelines, you are more likely to ensure that at the end of the day you can say, “I Comply.” As always, should you have any questions regarding your compliance efforts, don’t hesitate to refer to State and Federal Communication’s on-line source books or contact us directly.

You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: marketing@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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May 31, 2012 •

State and Federal to Sponsor Event Featuring FEC Chair Caroline Hunter

Join us next Wednesday, June 6 for a breakfast with FEC Commissioner and current Chair Caroline Hunter

WGR BreakfastState and Federal is sponsoring a breakfast hosted by Women In Government Relations’ PACs, Politics, & Grassroots task force with FEC Chair Hunter.  If you are in Washington next Wednesday, June 6,  join us for a conversation about FEC activities and priorities in this election year.

This particularly timely discussion will help PAC leaders, government relations staff and anyone associated with the political process understand what the landscape looks like for elections in the U.S. moving forward.  With some major nuances present this year that have never been present before, this is a great opportunity to know what to do, what not to do, what your colleagues are doing and what the FEC will be focusing on in the coming months!

Hope to see you there!

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March 7, 2012 •

Ask the Experts – Reportable LDA Expenditures

Here is your chance to “Ask the Experts” at State and Federal Communications, Inc.

Rebecca South
Federal Compliance Associate Rebecca South

Q.  As an organization employing in-house lobbyists, what expenditures am I required to capture for inclusion in the aggregate dollar amount reported on my quarterly Federal LD-2 report?

A. There are a variety of expenditures that Federal registrants are required to track and report in an effort to provide a good faith estimate of their activity.  These expenditures include:

  • Compensation, expenses and overhead associated with “registered” lobbyist employee activity.  For Federal purposes, a “registered” lobbyist is an individual who meets the statutory definition of a lobbyist and is listed by name on the LD-2 report;
  • Compensation, expenses and overhead associated with any non-lobbyist employee who engaged in lobbying activity during the quarter (even though they do not meet the statutory definition of lobbyist).  Their names are not listed on the report, but the value of their activity is included;
  • Dues paid to an association or membership organization during the quarter that are attributable to lobbying.  This amount is typically a percentage of the overall payments made to the membership organization and is ascertained by speaking with the outside entity directly.  Importantly, dues payments for lobbying activities should be included in the estimate for the quarter in which they are paid and cannot be apportioned over a longer period of time;
  • Retainers/fees incurred during the quarter to outside consultants/firms for lobbying activities.  These fees are required to be included during the quarter in which they are incurred regardless of whether billing or payment has been made.

If we can be of assistance in helping to identify reportable expenditures, please let us know.

You can directly submit questions for this feature, and we will select those most appropriate and answer them here. Send your questions to: marketing@stateandfed.com.

(We are always available to answer questions from clients that are specific to your needs, and we encourage you to continue to call or e-mail us with questions about your particular company or organization. As always, we will confidentially and directly provide answers or information you need.) Our replies to your questions are not legal advice. Instead, these replies represent our analysis of laws, rules, and regulations.

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