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Lobbying Firm Faces Charges Under Lobbying Disclosure Act

By Elliot S. Berke

It appears that the Justice Department is getting a bit more aggressive in enforcing violations under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, as amended (LDA).  As reporteed in the BLT: Blog of the Legal Times:

After allegedly failing to turn in 124 federal lobbying reports on time, a West Hempstead, N.Y.-based consulting firm with only one lobbying client is facing a fine up to $33 million.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia on Friday filed a civil suit against Biassi Business Services Inc. (BBSI) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, claiming the firm knowingly violated requirements of the Lobbying Disclosure Act. The law governs the reporting of federal lobbyists’ activities.  “The Government alleges that BBSI knowingly failed to comply with the periodic reporting requirements of the LDA and to remedy delinquent filings after being notified by the Secretary of the U.S. Senate (the “Senate”) and the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives (the “House”),” Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Hudak wrote in the complaint. “As such, and because BBSI has failed to remedy its unlawful actions despite a plethora of notices from the House, Senate, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the United States brings this action.”

Under the LDA, the fine can be up to $200,000 per violation. Prosecutors stated that BBSI had 124 knowing violations of lobbying reporting requirements and 41 knowing failures to fix a defective filing within 60 days.

Keith Morgan, the Deputy Chief, Civil Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office who oversees LDA violations, recently spoke at McGuireWoods’ Political Law 2013 Conference: Compliance for Businesses and Staffers. This is the fourth case the U.S. Attorney’s Office has brought involving LDA violations since 2010.