Did you know that inviting a government employee to your home for a party could violate state or federal gift rules, even if that person is your next-door neighbor? Did you know that offering or selling sporting event or theater tickets to government employees may violate these laws too, even if the tickets have no face value? Did you know that advancing the cost of a campaign fundraiser held at a company office is an in-kind contribution to the campaign, even if the campaign brings you a check that day? And did you know that phoning a government department or agency in an attempt to resolve an issue for a client might make you a lobbyist and subject you to federal, state, or local registration and reporting obligations?
The laws that govern political activity are a labyrinth of complicated, and often inconsistent, federal, state, and local election laws, lobbying registration and disclosure requirements, and gifts and ethics rules. Entities and individuals are all subject to these rules. For profit and nonprofit entities, as well as candidates for office and those who support them, all engage in activities that may be covered by these rules. Given the 24-hour news cycle and the explosion of Internet content, even an innocent misunderstanding can result in embarrassing or adverse publicity, at best, or an enforcement action against you with the potential for fines and penalties, at worst.
Compliance with these laws and regulations is particularly important to businesses, nonprofits and individual business owners during volatile election years.
Blank Rome’s Government Ethics and Compliance practice can help unravel these complicated rules. Our team counsels companies, executives, and firm personnel on ethics and compliance, including:
- Providing advice and assistance for individuals and entities on compliance with campaign finance laws and regulations
- Providing advice and assistance on compliance with government gift and travel rules and with lobbying registration and disclosure obligations
- Conducting compliance training regarding government gifts and travel rules and lobbying registration and disclosure
- Establishing and ensuring compliance by separate segregated funds and political action committees
- Providing guidance regarding the effect of the Supreme Court’s seminal opinion in Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S. Ct. 876 (2010), including the ability of corporations, labor unions, and trade associations to make independent expenditures and electioneering communications
- Representing campaign committees in proceedings brought by the Federal Election Commission and state and local regulatory bodies alleging violations of campaign financing laws and regulations
- Conducting internal investigations for federal and state candidate campaign committees and political action committees
- Providing advice and assistance regarding compliance with registration and disclosure under the Foreign Agents Registration Act
- Providing advice and assistance in connection with legislative redistricting, and representing state legislatures, governors, and political parties with the legal issues attached to the process
- Representing entities in connection with audits of Lobbying Disclosure Act filings by the United States Government Accountability Office and audits by state and local regulatory bodies
- Providing advice and assistance for compliance with state laws and regulations regarding gifts and travel rules and lobbying registration and disclosure
- Providing advice to nonprofit entities regarding federal tax implication of and limits on lobbying activities