Revised Lobbying Disclosure Guidance Now In Effect
On December 23, 2009, the Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House of Representatives published revisions to the Lobbying Disclosure Act Guidance ("LDA Guidance"). The document offers guidance to individuals, organizations and other entities required to register and file reports under the LDA. Key additions to the Guidance are summarized below. The complete revised LDA Guidance is available at http://www.senate.gov/legislative/resources/pdf/S1guidance.pdf.
- Quarterly Reporting of Lobbying Expenses: The Guidance makes clear that entities which pay membership dues in part to fund a membership organization's lobbying activities must report the dues as lobbying expenditures during the quarter in which the dues are paid. If the registrant pays annual membership dues in a lump sum at the beginning of the year, for example, the registrant cannot apportion part of the dues to subsequent quarters of the year. This requirement impacts companies and other entities that pay dues to trade associations engaging in lobbying activities.
- New Issue Area Code: The Guidance states that the new general issue area code, the "TAR" code, now should be used to identify lobbying related to tariff bills. For other trade-related issues, the TRD code remains applicable.
- Semiannual Reporting of Campaign Finance Contributions: The LDA Guidance now specifies that in-kind contributions must be disclosed on the LD-203. This requirement is nothing new, but this addition to the Guidance is a good reminder that in-kind contributions, such as the donation of catering or copying services, are considered campaign contributions that must be reported.
The LDA Guidance also clarifies that filers must report the entire amount paid to fund an event to honor a covered official (i.e., filers may not allocate only a portion of their payment to the event's honoring purpose). See examples 11 and 12 in the revised Guidance. The Guidance provides an example of a university that, in conjunction with its commencement event, confers an honorary degree upon a U.S. Senator. The Guidance states that all payments relating to the commencement event (chair rental, lunch for honorees, etc.) must be included on the LD-203, listing "various vendors" as the payee.
- Lobbying Registration for Foreign Affiliates: The requirements have not changed regarding the disclosure of foreign ownership and/or foreign affiliates with an interest in the outcome of the registrant's lobbying activity, but the LDA Guidance now contains express instructions for registration and reporting.
- Termination of a Lobbyist and/or Registrant: The LDA Guidance also incorporates earlier notices regarding when and how lobbyists may terminate - or "de-register" - their LDA registration.
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