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October 21, 2008
 
       
 

LOBBYING IN 
TOUGH TIMES


Big shout-out to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington DC! Don’t miss their Faux Real Bash event at Madame Tussauds this Sat, Oct 25, at 7:00 PM. Attend and win a real diamond necklace!  For tickets, call 703-698-7080 or contact nanrmhc@comcast.net and for more info click here.

 

We know the '07 Lobbying and Ethics Reform Act is a big deal, but the only rule we ever remember is about finger foods at parties with Hill staffers. So, we did the responsible thing and asked an expert, American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) public policy chief Jim Clarke. From his K St. quarters, Jim filled us in on how association members can avoid breaking the law.

 

Here Jim demonstrates how to properly grasp invisible food, the only type allowed at a sit-down meal with staffers. He tells us the new law (as well as fierce anti-lobbying stances from both candidates) means more grassroots advocating by association members is required. Jim, a 12-year ASAE gov. relations veteran, set the example by writing letters to Obama and McCain earlier this year highlighting associations' positive economic impact, and their ability to increase public service and volunteerism through advancing their tax-exempt status. He also says that with politicians spending more time in their districts, and less in DC, association members back home (not bound by the new lobbying rules) need to get face time on their own turf.

 

It's not beneath us to ask your staff what they think of you. Robert Hay and Carla Lochiatto were on the ball, crediting Jim's 18 years on the Hill, as staff director under former Rep. Bill Clinger (R-Pa), for helping him understand personality quirks of Hill staffers and pointing out which ones will be the most helpful. But even the most accommodating staffer can't keep you out of hot water if you violate lobbying regs. Remember, Jim says, any member of an association that employs lobbyists is responsible for following tight rules restricting meals, tickets and other gifts for lawmakers. He encourages associations to attend ASAE-sponsored training sessions and hold their own in-house training each year.

 

For Jim, complex rules don't prohibit fun. His favorite evening is ASAE's Summit Awards Dinner, which honors six associations annually at the National Building Museum. The event celebrates the public benefit of association activities and Jim tells us it goes a long way toward educating outside audiences, like Congress and the press (we certainly feel smarter), about the value provided by associations. When Jim isn't working on behalf of ASAE's 24,000 members, the Pittsburgh native and lifelong Steelers fan enjoys watching his son play defensive end for the Blue Ridge School in Dyke, Va.

 
 
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