On May 29, 2008, the Senate Office of Public Records issued its Guidance regarding the LD-203 Report, which is the semi-annual report due to be filed on July 30, 2008 by all lobbyists and all entities that employ registered lobbyists. The Guidance explains the types of events related to Congress members, Capitol Hill staff members, and executive branch officials whose costs must be captured and reported on the LD-203. The Guidance provides the following example of an event for which disclosure is required:
Example 3: Registrant “R” sponsors an event. Senator “Y” is listed on the invitation as an attendee. Representative “T” is listed on the invitation as a speaker. “R” would disclose the date, amount, recipient(s)of funds, and “Y” and “T” as being recognized.
Foley has had several conversations this week with the Senate Office of Public Records to seek clarification of this example; specifically, whether any event hosted, organized, or supported by a “registrant” where a Congress member or Capitol Hill staff member is a speaker constitutes a reportable expense.
Foley has been advised that yes, such an event of any size, duration, or type involving a Congress member, Capitol Hill staff member, and/or a covered executive branch official is deemed the equivalent of “honoring” or “recognizing” that individual,1 and the costs and expenses of the event allocable to each covered official must be captured and reported on the registrant’s LD-203.
Each day, events occur in Washington, D.C. and around the country that are covered by this provision of the new law. The obligation for tracking and reporting expenses for such events may not be readily apparent, but they must be captured for reporting purposes on the LD-203.
Some examples of reportable expenses associated with speaking appearances by Congress members, Capitol Hill staff members, and executive branch officials:
Calculating the Reportable Costs of Events Featuring Congress Members, Staff, and Officials as Speakers
The type of event at which covered legislative and executive branch officials are speakers will determine the costs that must be captured and reported on the LD-203. A good-faith effort must be made to capture and report all costs attendant to such an event — allocated to each covered official’s participation.
Type of Event: Discrete, single events
- Press Conference
Calculating Reportable Costs:
- Direct costs of event
- Allocation of staff time for event
- Marketing costs for event
- Any travel or approved payments for Congress member, staff, or official participation
Type of Event: Multi-part and multi-day events
- Two-day legislative conference in Washington, D.C.; member attends for 30-minute presentation
- Citizens group hosts three-day convention; three members attend and speak; one senator speaks for one hour, another official speaks for 30 minutes; a congressman speaks at the dinner, which lasts three hours
Calculating Reportable Costs:
- Calculate the total time of conference or meeting
- Calculate the participation time of each Congress member, staff member, or official
- Determine the percentage of time spent by each member or official to the total time of the conference, meeting, or event
- Apply the percentage to the total costs of the event, conference, or meeting to determine the reportable costs for the LD-203 associated with each member separately
- Add any additional costs associated with a particular official’s participation to the reportable costs on the LD-203 for that official
In addition to the more obvious types of events covered by the LD-203, it is important that every filer should now begin to consider its activities during this calendar year in which Congress members or staff have been involved in speaking roles and that all costs, expenses, and payments associated with such events are calculated in preparation for inclusion on the LD-203.
1 As of this writing the House Clerk has not yet issued the LD-203 Form. The Senate Guidance to LD-203 reporting includes “honored or recognized” in the same paragraph. The statute separates the types of officials covered into two categories: “honored,” which includes both legislative and executive branch officials, and “recognized,” which includes only legislative branch officials. A safe approach until otherwise clarified is to treat legislative and executive branch officials speaking at events in the same manner.
Legal News Alert is part of our ongoing commitment to providing up-to-the-minute information about pressing concerns or industry issues affecting our government and public affairs clients and colleagues. If you have any questions about this alert or would like to discuss this topic further, please contact your Foley attorney or the following individual: