Category Archives: Lobbying

Tax-Exempt Organizations: Political Activity Restrictions and Disclosure Requirements

Source: Erika Lunder, Congressional Research Service, RL33377, September 11, 2007

From a summary:
Recently, significant attention has been paid to the political activities of taxexempt organizations. In particular, the activities of IRC 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, 501(c)(5) labor unions, 501(c)(6) trade associations, and 527 political organizations have been scrutinized. This report examines the limitations that the Internal Revenue Code places on political activity, including lobbying and campaign intervention, by tax-exempt organizations. It focuses on the above organizations, but also discusses the restrictions on the other types of tax-exempt organizations. The report also looks at the administrative procedures recently unveiled by the IRS that provide for expedited review of possible tax laws violations by IRC 501(c)(3) organizations that conduct political activities. In addition, the report contains a summary of the information that tax-exempt organizations must report to the Internal Revenue Service about their political activities and whether the information must be made publicly available.

Influence: A Booming Business

Source: The Center for Public Integrity

The influence industry in state capitals continues to grow, as state lobbyists and the companies and organizations that hire them spent a record of almost $1.3 billion in 2006, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s sixth-annual review.

As legislative sessions open in January, lawmakers and lobbyists are certain to be busier than ever. In 2006, also an election year in most states, the nation’s 7,400 state legislators passed more than 33,000 laws and spent an estimated $1.3 trillion in taxpayer money, according to The Fiscal Survey of States for 2007, released jointly by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers.

More companies and organizations were signed up to send their own representatives to the statehouse: more than 56,000 in 2006, compared to just fewer than 50,000 in 2005. The total number of lobbyists remained about 40,000, still averaging out to more than five lobbyists for each lawmaker.

In the 43 states that reported lobby expenditures for 2006, the $1.3 billion total was almost a 10 percent increase in reported spending from 2005. And in those 43 states, the average spent per legislator on lobbying was more than $200,000.

Of the 42 states that provided totals in both 2005 and 2006, 21 recorded an increase in lobby spending.

Lobbyists Get Local

Source: Julia Pflaum, Center for Responsive Politics, October 4, 2007

Professional Washington lobbyists are increasingly becoming middlemen between the federal government and cities and states–so much so that the amount of money spent by city and state governments to lobby Washington has doubled since 2000, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.
• Includes a chart: Top 15 City and State Entities to Spend Money on Federal Lobbying in 2007

Should Unions Play Golf With Republicans?: Labor PAC Support Across Political Parties

Source: Roland Zullo, Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society, Vol. 10 no. 2, June 2007
(subscription required)

This essay examines the strategy of political voluntarism, defined as a neutral political affiliation, by testing whether or not union political action committee (PAC) donations to congresspersons in the 2000 election cycle affected their roll call votes in subsequent years. Results indicate that overall, the Republicans became more antilabor in their roll call patterns after the election of George W. Bush, and that labor PAC donations did not moderate this shift. Democrats, however, became more prolabor in their roll call voting, and this trend was likewise independent of labor support. Finally, there is no evidence that congresspersons retaliated against labor when an electoral rival was supported. These findings underscore the importance of political parties in shaping public policy and challenge the utility of a labor political strategy that is party neutral. A strategic alternative, political idealism, is discussed.

“Why Unions Matter” An Orientation for Oregon Legislators, Candidates, and Their Staffs

Source: Robert Bussel, Labor Studies Journal, Vol. 32 no. 2, June 2007
(subscription required)

…To be sure, many legislators exhibited an appreciation of the union movement’s political role, especially its fundraising ability and capacity to mobilize volunteers for electoral activity. However, members of the United Labor Lobby believed that the focus on specific pieces of legislation and the logistics of campaign support tended to obscure political leaders’ understanding of the underlying values and motivations involved in shaping labor’s political priorities. As a result, the United Labor Lobby and LERC agreed to develop an educational program that would address this knowledge gap and provide Oregon legislators with a broader perspective regarding unions’ fundamental beliefs and their larger social role.

Federal Lobbying by Pork-Seeking State, Local Governments Skyrockets At Least 148% Since 1998, Americans for Prosperity Foundation Study Shows

Source: Americans for Prosperity Foundation, May 22, 2007

As the U.S. House of Representatives prepares to consider landmark lobbying reform legislation this week, the free-market Americans for Prosperity Foundation released a new study showing an explosion in the amount of taxpayer money spent by local governments and public universities to lobby Congress – often to secure pork-barrel earmarks for local pet projects — since 1998.

Using data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics and pulled from federal lobbying disclosure forms, the AFP Foundation study found a whopping 148 percent increase in overall federal lobbying spending by local governments, transportation authorities, public water utilities and state governments, including public universities, between 1998 and 2006.

Public universities led the way, increasing their spending on federal lobbying efforts by 213% (from $10.1 million in 1998 to $31.7 million in 2006,) followed closely by a 193% spending increase by local governments (from $20 million in 1998 to $59 million in 2006.) At the same time, the number and cost of pork-barrel earmarks, often awarded to public universities and local governments, skyrocketed at almost exactly the same pace, the study showed.

Full Report