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The House Ethics Committee determined new regulations for members of Congress to accept privately sponsored travel, including guidance on financial or logistical support for congressional trips to attend tradeshows or conferences, according to ASAE's Inroads newsletter. Also, ASAE revised its lobbying guidelines.
Acknowledging the benefit of education offered by outside events, the committee changed the deadline for submitting travel approval requests from 14 days before travel to 30 days, giving the committee staff more time to review all travel requests. The committee is also adding to the disclosure requirements new certification forms to increase the transparency on privately funded trips.
The committee gave “significant consideration” to whether 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations should be distinguished by their relationship to other groups, including groups that retain lobbyists. But the committee could not identify a fair way to distinguish between different nonprofits.
The new travel regulations will become effective for all trips taking place on or after April 1. The new certification forms for travel requests will be available on the ethics committee website about Feb. 15. Details, click here. http://ethics.house.gov/sites/ethics.house.gov/files/Travel%20Regs%20Pre...
Also, ASAE updated its “Association Lobbyist Guidelines,” which lays out the principles for association lobbyists as well as educating association professionals about the latest ethic rules since 2007.
The revised guidelines are meant to reflect Capitol Hill’s emphasis on transparency and accountability, to help association professionals interact with members of Congress in the current environment. Revisions include:
Compliance with lobbying laws: The second point in the original 2005 document was eliminated because it was redundant to current changes. This stresses that not only should lobbyist comply with lobbying rules, they should seek to uphold the spirit as well as the letter to the law.
Association policy process: This guideline was revised to emphasize how an association makes policy decisions, as opposed to a corporation or a lobbying firm. It provides a detailed explanation of the process of how association policy positions are formed by association volunteers and members.
Conflict of Interest: This guideline was reworded to more clearly state that association lobbyists will avoid personal or professional conflicts of interest when representing an association.
Understanding of policy process: This was moved from the sixth to the eighth guideline. The task force changed the word "priority" to "goal" and kept the language encouraging association lobbyists to educate the public on policy issues.
Continuing education: This was the ninth guideline in the 2005 version, and it was reworded, but it keep its original intent to encourage association lobbyists to continue to educate themselves on the best and most ethical practices of the profession.
The task force also decided that the term “association lobbyist” included in-house employees and contract lobbyists hired by an association. Details: www.asaecenter.org.