NSBA Submits Comments on Proposed Gift Rule

November 15, 2011

NSBA filed comments regarding an Office of Government Ethics proposed rule limiting gifts from registered lobbyists and lobbying organizations.

NSBA is particularly concerned about the revisions affecting widely attended gatherings (those with more than 100 people).  These rules will make it highly unlikely that government officials will attend meetings with ordinary business people to exchange views, and to ask and answer questions of one another because it would force them to pay conference fees and for meals in order to be able to attend.  It will promote isolated, uninformed governance — not good government.

The rule exempts some of the biggest lobbying organizations in America (trial lawyers, doctors, large universities with multibillion dollar endowments and the like) but treats organizations like the NSBA as suspect.  The rule impedes our fundamental right to petition the Government for redress of grievances. NSBA urged that the rule be withdrawn.

Policy-makers and regulators should be aware of what their actions may do to the small-business employers of nearly half of the public. The proposed rule makes that much less likely to happen and forces government officials to choose between their own pocketbook and good government. It constitutes a substantial infringement of our members’ ability in practice to petition the government for redress. Finally, the rule will be easy to evade through the expensive expedient of forming an associated 501(c)(3) organization. Thus, it will accomplish nothing save imposing additional expenses on affecting groups and will have a disproportionately adverse impact on small associations.

To see NSBA’s comments on this proposed rule, click here.