The LD-203 obviously includes a number of different disclosures. In practice, many reports show very little activity because the categories to be disclosed are fairly narrow. However, the report is filed under penalties of making false statements, so organizations have to know that they did not make any covered payments.
The Whole Company
As our previous posts have explained, many of the contributions that must be disclosed are not necessarily in the purview of the government affairs department. For example, a corporate philanthropy department might make a contribution to a charity that focuses on hunger relief. But, if a Member of Congress established that charity, it has to be disclosed on the LD-203. Similarly, an executive might ask the company to contribute to a charity active in a community where the company is located. But, again, if the executive were responding to a request from the Congressman’s district director, and that DD serves on the board of the charity, it is a contribution “designated” by a covered official.
Thus, we suggest having mechanisms in place to evaluate all corporate philanthropic donations for LD-203 disclosure. One option is to have all contributions be routed through the government affairs office for sign-off and determination of whether the contributions must be reported. Another option would be to have someone in the philanthropy department trained on the LD-203 so that that person can convey information to the team responsible for filing the LD-203. A third option would be to send a questionnaire to various parts of the company that disburse funds to locate LD-203 reportable expenditures.
In addition to the payments disclosures, the LD-203 also requires a certification that the company has not given any prohibited gifts. To satisfy this certification, more than just the government affairs team needs to say that they did not give prohibited gifts. Consider creating a policy for all staff to agree not to give prohibited gifts. Or, have the finance department trained to spot potential problems (e.g., any expense reimbursements that refer to a government official get flagged). Another option is to send a survey to a number of employees to spot improper gifts. If the system finds a gift that should not have been given, then the employee can reimburse the company (as long as the employee is not a lobbyist, he or she has a gift limit of $49.99 per gift to a covered official). If the gift exceeds the limits, then it may be necessary to have the covered official reimburse the company.