Nola Werren at CESSE - State and Federal Communications

August 12, 2010  •  

Nola Werren at CESSE

Brad Smith and Nola WerrenThe Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives [CESSE] held its annual meeting in Pittsburgh from July 13 to July 16, 2010. CESSE is a professional society comprised of over 1,200 executives from 165 science and engineering societies, whose combined memberships total approximately four million.  Some of CESSE’s members include the American Association of Artificial Intelligence, the America Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, and the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

The objective of CESSE is to advance, in the public interest, the arts and sciences of the management of engineering and scientific societies.  Essentially, CESSE is an “association of associations”….and therein lie the unique compliance challenges when it comes to government relations and grassroots activity.

I was invited to speak to those members attending the conference’s general management and public affairs program tracks.  Not only did this include those individuals working in the company’s public affairs department, but also its senior executives.

At the federal level, the biggest concern for the group was compliance with the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 [LDA], as amended by the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 [HLOGA], along with federal lobbying restrictions by nonprofit organizations.  In particular, I addressed the permissible monetary thresholds for lobbying expenditures by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization when making an election under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(h).  Group discussion included questions regarding the difference between direct and grassroots communication, both at the state and federal level.  Finally, no discussion about compliance would be complete without addressing the ethical disclosure obligations that accompany the vast array of state and federal gift laws.

Although no ninety minute presentation could ever include an in-depth, detailed discussion of state and federal lobbying regulations, the CESSE group walked away with a very comprehensive and practical overview.  I’d like to take this opportunity to wish CESSE all the best for its 2011 annual meeting in Vancouver!

Photo of Nola Werren and Brad Smith of the American Chemical Society.

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