September 22, 2007

ACE Releases Paper: How New Lobbying Reform will Affect Colleges

Posted in Legislation Affecting Students, Misc at 8:15 AM by Joe From Boston

The American Council for Education has release a paper and statement regarding how the new lobbying reform passed by Congress before the August resource and signed into law on September 14th will affect colleges and universities.

ACE details the general provisions as follows:

S. 1 requires lawmakers to disclose fundraising by lobbyists, tightens rules on gift-giving to staff and lawmakers, and requires lawmakers to disclose when they seek earmarked funds for projects in their home states, among other provisions.

The amended rules merit careful attention. For the first time, lobbying restrictions will apply directly to lobbyists, not just to members of Congress and Congressional staff. Most relevant to higher education institutions are new limitations and prohibitions on gifts, meals and travel.

The ACE paper provides general background on the changes and is not legal advice. Counsel should be consulted as questions arise.

And ACE also devotes an entire white paper to how colleges and universities are affected. They say that key provisions are:

(1) Public colleges and universities remain exempt from Congressional gift and travel restrictions. Foundations and other nongovernmental entities are not exempt.
(2) Preexisting restrictions on gifts to members of Congress and Congressional staff continue to apply to independent colleges and universities, and to higher education groups, that do not employ or engage a lobbyist. New, stricter rules ban most gifts from independent institutions that do employ or engage a lobbyist, and ban most such gifts from institutional employees.
(3) An independent institution, even if it has a lobbyist, may sponsor certain events—including a “widely-attended” function or a fundraising event for a 501(c)(3)—and pay the admission fee for members of Congress or staff.
(4) House and Senate gift rules contain other limited exceptions, such as for gifts of nominal value and gifts based on personal friendship.
(5) The House exempts independent colleges and universities from Congressional trip-sponsorship rules.
(6) A Senate exception for 501(c)(3) organizations exempts most independent colleges and universities and some higher education groups from compliance with Senate trip-sponsorship rules.
(7) Special restrictions apply to Congressional travel in private aircraft.
(8) Lobbyists are subject to more-stringent disclosure rules.
(9) New rules regulate practices such as earmarks and employment of lobbyists.