This afternoon, the Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate released new amended guidance related to the LD-203 contribution report. This new guidance dramatically reduces the scope of the required disclosures, particularly as they relate to trade association and charitable activities. The revised guidance also provides clarification on the reporting of reimbursed expenses and eliminates the dual reporting requirements related to certain political action committees ("PAC"). Specifically, the new guidance outlines the following key changes:
- Disclosure is not required in most circumstances where a lobbyist or registrant merely purchases a table at an event or a registration fee for a conference where a congressional member or other covered official is honored. Under the guidance issued today, "the purchase of a table or ticket to another entity's event, in and of itself, is not sufficient to be considered paying the "cost of an event."
- Disclosure is not required when a trade association holds a breakfast at which a congressional member or other covered officials speak to the association as part of a Washington "fly-in," absent circumstances where the speaker is in some way recognized for his or her support of the group or its legislative agenda.
- Disclosure is not required when a congressional member or other covered official serves as an honorary co-host for a charity event or gala. The guidance notes that passive allowance of [congressional members'] names as "co-hosts," in and of itself, is not sufficient to be considered "honored or recognized."
- Disclosure is still required for an event where a congressional member receives an award -- even if the overall purpose of the event is to raise funds for charity or another organization.
- If a lobbyist serves in a position where they direct or control the activities of their employer's PAC, the lobbyist does not need to separately report contributions by the PAC on the lobbyist's LD-203, provided the employer discloses the PAC contributions on the "registrant's" LD-203 report. However, the lobbyist should disclose on their individual report that they have a role in overseeing the actions of the PAC.
- In circumstances where a lobbyist is reimbursed for an expense that should be disclosed on the LD- 203, those expenses should be disclosed by the registrant, not by the lobbyist.
This guidance is a significant departure from the earlier guidance released on May 29, 2008. The full guidance may be found at http://lobbyingdisclosure.house.gov . In addition to this e-Alert, Sonnenschein has posted a redlined copy of the new guidance at http://www.sonnenschein.com/docs/LD-203_Guidance.pdf.