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Government and Community Relations

University Resources Government Information

Penn State University Federal Lobbying Activities - Contact and Gift Reporting by Penn State Faculty and Staff

Questions regarding the Lobbying Disclosure Act and the Penn State reporting process should be directed to:

Amanda M. Wintersteen
Director of Federal Relations
117 Old Main
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 865-6563
Fax: (814) 863-8476
awintersteen@psu.edu

Background Information: Congress first passed the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, and in 2007, the Act was updated and the lobbying and gift rules have become more stringent. The University, as a registered lobbying entity, now has to file its lobbying report quarterly instead of semi-annually.

Per the interoffice memo that was distributed to all Penn State Faculty and Staff dated March 18, 2008, to assist Penn State in complying with the Federal lobbying disclosure law, Penn State employees who engage in lobbying on the University's behalf must complete the Federal Lobbying Contact and Expense Reporting Form describing the lobbying activities undertaken and any related expenses, as well as backup of the expenses. See the definitions below on lobbying and lobbying contacts, and on covered federal officials. If you were asked by a Member of Congress or Congressional Committee to testify or respond to a request for information, it is not considered to be a lobbying activity and does not need to be reported.

In addition to reporting quarterly on our lobbying activities and expenses, Penn State must also certify on a semi-annual basis that its employees who engage in lobbying on Penn State's behalf have read and are familiar with the rules of the House and the Senate regarding gifts and travel. While the University is exempt from some gift rules because of our status as a public institution of higher education, it is important to familiarize yourself with the new law if you have any contact with Members of Congress or their staff on behalf of Penn State. There are links below to the House and to the Senate rules on gifts, or you may contact Government and Community Relations if you need clarification.

Upon completion of the Federal Lobbying Contact and Expense Reporting Form, the forms must be forwarded by the last day of the quarter in which federal lobbing activity occurred to:

Amanda M. Wintersteen
Director of Federal Relations
117 Old Main
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: (814) 865-6563
Fax: (814) 863-8476
awintersteen@psu.edu

Faculty and staff are also reminded that federal funds may not be expended for lobbying purposes.

These Frequently Asked Questions may be of assistance.

Definitions

The term "lobbying activities" means lobbying contacts and efforts in support of such contacts, including preparation and planning activities, research and other background work that is intended, at the time it is performed, for use in contacts, and coordination with the lobbying activities of others.

The term "lobbying contact" means any oral or written communication (including an electronic communication) to a covered executive branch official or a covered legislative branch official that is made on behalf of Penn State with regard to:

The term "covered executive branch official" means:

Note: In general, covered executive branch officials are White House employees and presidential appointees. For a list of positions that may be considered "covered executive branch officials" visit http://www.justice.gov/archive/transition/disclosure.htm.

The term "covered legislative branch official" means-

The term "gift" is used broadly to include meals, entertainment, and anything else of value. Members of Congress and their staff may never solicit a gift from any person who has interests before Congress; accept a gift that is linked to any official action that the individual has taken, or is being asked to take; or accept any other gift, unless specifically allowed under one of the provisions of the House gift rule.

House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct Memo on Gift Rule Amendments at the Beginning of the 110th Congress can be found here.

Standing Rules of the Senate - Rule XXXV - Gifts - can be found here.

**Reminder -- Pursuant to Penn State Policy AD-50, Contact with State and Federal Officials and Official Visits by Government Agencies, Penn State faculty and staff must coordinate with Penn State's Government and Community Relations regarding lobbying efforts made on behalf of Penn State University.

Questions about any aspects of federal lobbying and reporting of congressional gift rules may be directed to Amanda Wintersteen.