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Lobbying and Government Relations in the U.S. | Michael E. Zatezalo
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Lobbying and Government Relations in the U.S. | Michael E. Zatezalo

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A review of the function of lobbying in the U.S. and its use at both the executive and legislative branches of government.

A review of the function of lobbying in the U.S. and its use at both the executive and legislative branches of government.

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Lobbying and Government Relations in the U.S. | Michael E. Zatezalo Lobbying and Government Relations in the U.S. | Michael E. Zatezalo Presentation Transcript

  • What You Need To Know About Lobbying and Government Relations in the U.S. Presented by Michael E. Zatezalo, Esq.
  • What is Lobbying?
    • Lobbying is generally defined as all attempts to influence legislators and government officials, whether by other legislators, constituents or organized groups, such as industry or trade groups.
    • Governments, whether they are federal, state or local, often define and regulate organized lobbying.
  • What is Lobbying?
    • Lobbying is an ancient art
      • As old as government itself
      • Still frequently viewed with suspicion by many Americans
  • What is Lobbying?
    • Lobbying involves much more than persuading legislators.
      • Principal elements include:
        • Researching and analyzing legislation or regulatory proposals
        • Monitoring and reporting on developments
        • Attending and sometimes testifying before legislative or regulatory hearings
        • Working with coalitions interested in the same issues
        • Educating not only government officials but also employees and corporate officers as to the implications of various changes
  • What is Lobbying?
    • What most lay people regard as lobbying-- the actual communication with government officials-- can represent the smallest portion of a lobbyist's time; often times a far greater proportion is devoted to the other aspects of preparation, information and communication.
  • Lobbying in the U.S.
    • Lobbying occurs at all levels of government in the U.S.
    • Federal, state and local governments all have lobbying regulations. In general, these regulations seek to:
      • Balance constitutionally protected First Amendment rights of expression and association against public concerns about the appearance or reality of corruption in elections and legislation
      • Preserve the right of individuals to petition their own government officials
  • Lobbying at the Federal Level
    • Federal law requires most persons who are paid to make direct "lobbying contacts" with members of Congress and officials of the federal executive branch to register and file reports twice a year.
  • Lobbying at the State Level
    • Almost all states define lobbying as an attempt to influence government action.
    • Both written and oral communication are considered lobbying.
  • Lobbying at the State Level
    • Oversight and regulation of lobbying at the state level typically focuses on 4 primary themes:
      • 1. Registration requirements defining what is lobbying and who is a lobbyist
          • Variety of definitions among the states as to what constitutes lobbying but in all cases there is an attempt to influence a government action
          • Lobbyists are typically defined by whether or not they receive compensation either directly or indirectly to influence an action
          • All states recognize certain exceptions for activities that would otherwise be considered lobbying, such as testifying at committee hearings, attending meetings, writing letters or casual conversation
          • Principals (employers of the lobbyist) often must register to denote that they have hired a lobbyist and how much they spend on lobbying fees
  • Lobbying at the State Level
      • 2. Requirement that lobbyists and/or the interests that hire them to periodically disclose their expenditures and/or earnings
          • Standards often vary as to if it is a legislative or executive agency issue
          • Standards vary as to what information must be reported
          • Many states require reporting of lobbyist compensation and all expenses related to food and travel
          • Some states require reporting of indirect costs associated with lobbying
          • Frequency of reports vary with most reports being either monthly or on a semi-annual to annual basis
  • Lobbying at the State Level
      • Regulation of the revolving door creating a time period between which a public official can move from public service to lobbying
      • Defining the range of permissible lobbying activities, such as providing free gifts or meals
          • Most states prohibit a lobbyist from receiving a contingency fee or a percentage fee based on success
          • Most states limit the amount of gifts that can be spent on a public official
  • How to Select a Competent Lobbyist
    • To be an effective lobbyist, you need to understand the structure of the government that is impacting your business. This is important because navigating through the bureaucracy of government is not an easy process, and establishing relationships with those in a decision-making capacity is key.
  • How to Select a Competent Lobbyist
    • Typically, a government relations strategy is focused on the executive and/or legislative branches and is often impacted by the personalities of those involved in the issue.
  • How to Select a Competent Lobbyist
    • 1. Many associations and/or businesses hire an entity to coordinate all state lobbying efforts through such entity ’s state contacts
    • 2. Do your homework
          • Ask for details regarding past legislative and regulatory successes on behalf of clients
          • Learn what other lobbyists and public officials say about them
          • Ask for whom the lobbyist is currently registered to represent
  • Executive Branch of Government
    • The Executive branch has the broadest reach.
      • Deals directly with rules and regulations that impact businesses
      • Makes budget recommendations
      • Administers the budget
      • Enters into contracts for personnel services and goods
  • Executive Branch of Government
    • Key Strategies
      • Work with a professional lobbyist to determine which part of the executive branch deals with your issue(s).
        • Typically has years of working, either inside or alongside government
        • Helps to develop a strategy to try and effectuate desired outcomes for the client
  • Executive Branch of Government
    • Key Strategies, cont.
      • Strategy centers around:
        • To whom communication should be directed
        • How to communicate
        • When to communicate
        • What to communicate
        • Who should communicate
        • When and at what level to make campaign contributions
  • Executive Branch of Government
    • Each state has its own registration and reporting requirements
    • In Ohio:
      • Both the lobbyist and the lobbyist's employer must register with the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee ("JLEC") and a fee must be paid.
      • The lobbyist and the lobbyist's employer are both responsible for record-keeping and reporting related to their activities.
      • Limits and prohibitions are attached to how much can be spent on a public official for either meals/beverage, gifts and travel that lobbyist need to be aware of and follow.
      • A professional lobbyist should be cognizant of all of the limitations.
  • Legislative Branch of Government
    • The Legislative branch has three fundamental powers:
      • Political power- the power to enact laws providing for the establishment, organization and operation of government at all levels in its state
      • Police power- the power to enact all manner of laws that promote the public peace, health, safety and welfare
      • Taxing power- the duty to levy and collect taxes that will raise revenue in amount sufficient to pay for government facilities and operations.
  • Legislative Branch of Government
    • Key Strategies
      • A lobbyist helps businesses take an issue through the legislative process by working with a legislator to get the issue introduced as legislation and hopefully passed during the time the legislature meets.
  • Legislative Branch of Government How a Bill Becomes a Law
  • Legislative Branch of Government
    • Key Strategies, cont.
      • A lobbying strategy must be designed that centers on the following:
        • To whom communication should be directed?
        • How to communicate:
          • Direct testimony before committee
          • Face-to-face meetings with legislators
          • Phone calls to legislative offices
          • Letter-writing campaigns
  • Legislative Branch of Government
      • A lobbying strategy must be designed that centers on the following:
        • When to communicate?
        • What to communicate?
        • Who should communicate?
        • When and at what level to make campaign contributions?
        • Media involvement
        • Identification of other interested parties that may share interest
  • Legislative Branch of Government
    • Each state has its own registration and reporting requirements
    • In Ohio:
      • Legislative lobbyists and their employers must register as a Legislative Agent/Employer with JLEC, which is the same committee that oversees Executive Agency Lobbyist.
      • An initial filing fee must be paid and reports must be filed.
      • There are strict limits on what can be spent on legislators related to gifts, meals and travel.
  • Local Lobbying
    • Most larger municipalities have local ordinances and regulations that govern lobbying.
  • Thank You!
    • Michael E. Zatezalo, Esq.
    • Managing Director
    • Kegler, Brown, Hill & Ritter Co., L.P.A.
    • Suite 1800, 65 East State Street
    • Columbus, Ohio 43215
    • Direct Dial: +1 614 462 5497
    • Fax: +1 614 464 2634
    • Email: [email_address]
    • www.keglerbrown.com