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Lobbying Guidance and FAQ
UF LOBBYING GUIDANCE
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What is ‘lobbying?’: Lobbying means influencing or attempting to influence legislative action or non-action through oral or written communication or an attempt to obtain the goodwill of a member or employee of the Legislature, Congress or covered Executive branch official.
- Who is a ‘lobbyist?’: Generally speaking, a lobbyist is someone who is getting paid to lobby or a person who is primarily employed for government affairs. Florida law generally requires all lobbyists to register. Federal law requires anyone who spends more than 20 percent of their time engaged in lobbying related activities to register
- Who is a ‘covered federal official’? Covered officials include all members of Congress and their staffs, as well as committee staffs; executive branch confirmed positions and Schedule C employees. Federal agency grant administrators and program officers are not covered. If there is someone not in this list, please contact the UF Washington Office at UF-FederalRelations@ufl.edu for guidance.
- What if I am asked to provide information to a legislator, do I have to register to lobby? It depends. An employee who simply provides information to a legislator (and does not advocate for or against a position or funding) or is asked to testify before a committee as an expert generally does not need to register as a lobbyist. There may be circumstances where that communication could trigger a required disclosure filing. Notify the Office of Government and Community Relations if you are contacted by a legislator or staff.
- What if I want to support my professional organization or other non-university organization (and not in my professional role at UF)? Generally, lobbying contacts you make on behalf of a professional association or in connection with your personal interests or your scholarly pursuits would not be lobbying activities on behalf of the University of Florida. In fact, you should make it clear that you are there on behalf of your association or yourself, and not for the University. You still may have required disclosure filings, and the university’s Outside Activities policy would likely apply.
- What if I am asked to support a candidate running for office (locally, state or federal)? Federal law prohibits the university from raising or contributing funds for a political candidate, committee or political party. This prohibition includes using UF funds, facilities, personnel, email addresses and systems, social media or any other resources for partisan political activities. In addition, employees may not use the university seal, letterhead, symbols, logos or other identifiable marks of institutional affiliation (including images of UF buildings) to endorse or promote political parties, campaigns or candidates. UF employees who are involved with candidates or campaigns must do so on their own time, be explicit in communications that they do not represent the university in this regard, and should at all times use only their personal email address, social media or other resources.
- What if I get contacted by a government official, or their staff, for a visit? We welcome elected officials to visit the university. If you are contacted, please connect with the Office of Government and Community Relations to assist in coordinating the visit.
- Am I allowed to give a Member of the Florida Legislature a gift or token of appreciation from the University? No. Under Florida law, you cannot buy coffee, lunch, or any item of value unless it is a plaque or related award item under $25 in value.
- What additional filing requirements are in place regarding Federal Lobbying Activity? The university is required to keep records of lobbying on behalf of the institution, whether or not it is done by a registered lobbyist, including record of:
- Issue(s) discussed, including bill numbers and sections of bills, if known;
- Lobbying expenditures which include travel costs, lodging expenses, administrative costs and salary associated with time spend preparing, planning, researching, coordinating lobbying efforts and lobbying;
- Institution(s) contacted – US House of Representatives, Senate, or Executive Branch agency which includes employees of the National Institutes of Health Director and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Director and Deputy Director.
- Am I allowed to participate in political campaign activities or express my political views on a candidate or ballot issue? UF is prohibited from participating in any political campaign or providing anything of value to support or oppose a candidate for public office or a ballot initiative. This prohibition includes using UF funds, facilities, personnel, email addresses and systems, social media, or any other university resources for political activities. Among other things, you should not use university emails to support or oppose any candidate, political party, or ballot measure. Use only your personal email address, social media, and other resources. Likewise, you should not use the university seal, letterhead, symbols, logos, or other identifiable marks of institutional affiliation (including images of UF buildings) to endorse or promote a party, campaign, candidate, or issue. Read more about this in the UF Administrative Memo regarding Political Campaign Activity.
- How can I learn more about the University’s lobbying efforts? Gators for Higher Education is the University’s official advocacy program. You can check or register online at http://gatorsforhighered.ufl.edu/ to receive a regular newsletter that provides updates. The website also includes the current legislative priorities for UF along with other helpful resources.
- How do I contact the UF Office of Government and Community Relations?
- Florida: (352) 392-4574, 111 Tigert Hall or Post Office Box 113157, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Washington: (202) 220-1383, 444 North Capitol Street, NW Suite 322 Washington, DC 20001, UF-FederalRelations@ufl.edu
- UF/IFAS Government Affairs Office: (850) 270-4013: 215 S. Monroe Street Suit 110 Tallahassee, FL 32301, Mary Ann Hooks, email@example.com