Tulane University, as a tax-exempt organization, is permitted to engage in a limited amount of federal lobbying, provided it does not constitute a substantial part of the university’s activities. The Internal Revenue Code requires that the University file annual reports documenting the types of lobbying activities in which it engaged, and the expenses incurred in those lobbying activities. Depending on the amount of lobbying done by key university officials, the University may also be required to file quarterly reports under the Lobbying Disclosure Act. To comply with these regulations, Tulane University faculty and staff are not permitted to engage in lobbying activities on behalf of the University without the approval in advance by the University. If approved, lobbying activities must be documented and related expenses must be reported to the Office of Government and Community Relations. The use of federal funds to lobby any federal official in Congress or the Executive branch in support of awarding or extending a federal contract, grant, loan or cooperative agreement is strictly prohibited. Universities are explicitly prohibited from supporting or opposing political candidates in elections. The Policies and Guidelines related to political activity have been developed in order to maintain a transparent and proper relationship with local, state and federal governments. Any policy-related questions should be directed to OGCR staff by calling 504-988-3390 or sending email to Tulane_OGCR@wave.tulane.edu.
Lobbying activities by faculty and staff on behalf of Tulane University may be subject to federal, state, and university regulations and policies. It is imperative that anyone contemplating such activities contact the Office of Government and Community Relations in advance of making or promoting any lobbying contacts. Direct lobbying refers to attempts to influence a legislative body through communication with a member or employee of a legislative body, or with a government official who participates in formulating legislation. Grass roots lobbying refers to attempts to influence legislation by attempting to affect the opinion of the public with respect to the legislation and encouraging the audience to take action with respect to the legislation. In either case, the communications must refer to and reflect a view on the legislation. Under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, a Lobbying Contact is defined as an oral, written, or electronic communication to a covered official from the legislative or executive branch regarding the formulation, modification, or adoption of federal legislation or a federal rule, Executive Order, policy, or position of the U.S. Government, or the administration or execution of a federal program or policy.
Lobbying - Examples and Recommendations
|Situation||Is there a reporting obligation?||Notify Government Relations in advance?|
|Professor sends research paper to Congressman||N||Y|
|Professor writes as private citizen to Congressman in support of legislation||N||N|
|Professor calls federal funding agency to check on status of proposal||N||N|
|Professor contacts program officer for clarification on regulation||N||N|
|Member of Congress invites professor to testify in committee||N||Y|
|Professor writes response to new notice of federal regulation||N||Y|
|Professor sends member(s) of Congress non-partisan analysis of existing or proposed legislation||N||Y|
|Professor sends member(s) of Congress analysis of legislation and asks member to support or reject it||Y||Y|
|Professor visits with member of Congress or their staff and asks them to support increased funding for an agency or program||Y||Y|
|Professor contacts a Cabinet official and asks for assistance regarding a program in their agency||Y||Y|
|Professor lobbies member(s) of Congress as part of a delegation from a professional association seeking increased funding for an agency or program||Y||Y|
|Professor writes on university letterhead asking for a vote for or against a particular bill||Y||Y|
|Professor visits member(s) of Congress while in D.C. and asks for support or funding for a particular program or project
As stated in the Tulane University Staff Handbook, “Under federal law, the University may not participate in, or intervene in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office. However, members of the University community are encouraged to fulfill their civic responsibilities as private citizens. There are no restraints upon your personal political activity, provided you are acting as a private citizen and not representing the University. You may not use University resources, time or property for or on behalf of any political candidate, campaign or organization.” Likewise, the Faculty Handbook states, “There shall be no restraint upon the partisan political activity of a member of the Tulane faculty, provided that he or she is acting as a private citizen and scrupulously avoids giving the impression of representing the University.”
- Students and student groups are strongly urged to consult with the Office of Government and Community Relations when planning events or engagements involving government officials of political candidates, especially when those activities take place on Tulane’s campus or in Tulane’s facilities.
- Campaign-related Speaking or Writing: Tulane faculty members and employees who are identified (by themselves or with others) using their university titles or affiliations when speaking at campaign events or writing in campaign-related publications, advertisements, fundraising requests, websites, blogs, email and/or social media posts must clearly indicate that their comments are purely personal, and do not represent the views of the University. We recommend language such as “any views expressed by the individual are his/hers alone and do not reflect the views of Tulane University or any of its constituent institutions.”
- Volunteering or Advising: Faculty and staff who volunteer for or advise campaigns or candidates on policy or strategic issues may do so only on their own times, and must be explicit in communications that they do not represent the University in this regard. In addition, faculty and staff should only use personal e-mail, social media or other online accounts at all times for such activities. Tulane’s physical or electronic facilities should not be used for convening or attending political meetings, events or fundraisers.
Engagement with Government Officials
Gifts to Louisiana employees and public officials are governed by the state ethics laws (LA Rev Stat § 42:1115) that state, in part, “No public servant shall solicit or accept, directly or indirectly, any thing of economic value as a gift or gratuity from any person or from any officer, director, agent, or employee of such person, if such public servant knows or reasonably should know that such person: (1) Has or is seeking to obtain contractual or other business or financial relationships with the public servant's agency, or (2) Is seeking, for compensation, to influence the passage or defeat of legislation by the public servant's agency.” There are some exceptions regarding certain situations involving food and drink, public events at which the public servant is a speaker or participant, etc., however tickets to sporting events are not allowed.