Thursday, November 13, 2008, 5:29 PM

Womble Carlyle's Political Law Team Presents a Webinar

Lobbying in the Nation’s Capital: Understanding the Rules and Surviving an Audit

With new leaders arriving soon in Washington, D.C. and many important issues on the table, companies and trade associations are launching lobbying initiatives and ramping up their in-house government relations capabilities.

Remember that the rules of engagement have changed dramatically over the past year. The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act - a signature achievement of Senator Barack Obama - imposes expanded reporting obligations on the lobbying community and more rigid ethics rules. The law also subjects lobbyist-employers to random audits, fines and criminal prosecution.

January 2009 is a critical month. Organizations employing federal lobbyists and their lobbyist-employees must certify compliance with Congressional ethics rules for the last six months of 2008. Each organization and each lobbyist also will have to disclose political contributions and donations to organizations with ties to Congressional and other officials. Also, filers are permitted to change the method they use to calculate the cost of employee time and other expenses relating to lobbying, but can only do so once a year.

More than ever, an effective lobbying program must include systems for effective compliance with lobbying and gift rules. And political fundraising - through a PAC or by company executives - requires careful attention to complex federal rules. New FEC bundling rules are expected early in the new year.

Why should you attend?

  • If you are just coming to understand your obligations under this new law, or if you are concerned about whether you are in a position to survive a random audit of your lobbying disclosure reports, learn the steps you can take NOW to protect your company.
  • Violations of this law can lead to fines, criminal prosecution, and a bruised reputation. Reports filed under the federal lobbying law are scrutinized by the press, watchdog groups and your competitors. A little planning and preparation can go a long way in preventing unwanted attention.
  • The second certification and contributions report under the new law is due in January. The first filing last July was fraught with uncertainty, and problems were compounded by a confusing last-minute change in guidance by the Clerk of the House and Secretary of the Senate. As you prepare for the next filing, get up-to-date insight as to how this new law is being interpreted and applied.
  • Because the new law imposes a gift ban on lobbyists and their employers, it’s essential that your certification of compliance be based on appropriate due diligence and training.
  • The law now requires quarterly estimates of lobbying expenses, which cover activity well beyond the actual contacts with covered officials. To respond to random audits, every filer must maintain appropriate records for tracking employee hours and other covered expenses.
  • Learn whether it makes sense for your organization to change its method of reporting lobbying expenses. The choice can have consequences in terms of your compliance obligations and the picture of your lobbying activity that’s made publicly available. Find out which works best for your organization.

About the speakers

Larry Norton and Jim Kahl head Womble Carlyle's Political Law Practice. They represent corporations, trade associations, non-profit organizations, and others in connection with campaign finance, lobbying, and gift laws. Prior to joining Womble Carlyle, Larry and Jim served as General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel, respectively, of the Federal Election Commission from 2001-2007.

When: Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Time: 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. (ET)

To register, click here.

All registrants will receive a confirmation email including all Web-conferencing log-in information prior to the program.

For information or questions about the current compliance requirements, contact:

Larry Norton -, (202) 857-4429
Jim Kahl -, (202) 857-4417

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