A Guide to Political and Lobbying Activities - Updated: February 2012

by K&L Gates LLP


Our latest edition significantly updates the Guide to Political and Lobbying Activities to include a new Chapter V highlighting the limits on political and lobbying activity by public charities organized and operating under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Additionally, the guide includes several updates on the evolution of the law on so-called “Super PACs” (page I-31). In the two years since the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, other federal courts and the Federal Election Commission have decided cases and issued advisory opinions that have refined and, in some ways, expanded on the rights recognized in that decision. Independent Expenditure-only committees, or more commonly known as Super PACs, and hybrid PACs are set to impact the 2012 elections at the presidential, House, and Senate levels in tangible ways that political parties and even candidates themselves cannot. This Guide provides an overview of this evolving dynamic.

We are also closely monitoring the Senate version of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012 (the “STOCK Act”), which passed the Senate on February 3, 2012 and would amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act to require so-called “political intelligence” firms and consultants to register and file regular reports similar to federal lobbyists. The House-passed version of this legislation does not contain a similar provision. Upon any changes affecting who must register and report under the LDA, we will update this Guide to Political and Lobbying Activities and provide general guidance on our website, www.klgates.com.

This Guide and other political and lobbying activity guidance are available online.


This updated Guide to Political and Lobbying Activities, prepared by K&L Gates, is intended to provide general guidance by highlighting some of the major restrictions on political and lobbying activities at the federal level. This guide focuses on the limitations and restrictions applicable to individuals, corporations, and corporate PACs, including special limitations applicable to corporations organized as public charities under Section 510(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. There are also some special rules for trade associations, which are not discussed in this guide. Similar but separate rules apply to unincorporated entities such as partnerships and their non-connected PACs, which are also not discussed in this guide.

This Ethics Guide is not intended, and should not be relied upon, as legal advice on any particular situation or set of facts. This Ethics Guide is an overview and is not intended to be an exhaustive or detailed analysis of all the relevant law and issues. Many of the areas – particularly the complicated exceptions – are replete with subtle nuances and unclear interpretations. Accordingly, certain issues may require more thorough and specific examination.

Since violations of the ethical restrictions can lead to strained relations, adverse publicity, and even civil or criminal sanctions, caution is strongly advised. Further guidance should be sought if there is any doubt about the application of these restrictions. If you have questions about this Ethics Guide or need political ethics advice, contact K&L Gates at 202.778.9000, or relevant ethics advisors within the executive branch agencies, FEC, or Congress.

Please see full publication below for more information.