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Here's something interesting coming down the pike. What does it mean for The International Sign Association? Will this new proposed law benefit our Industry? Will this new law benefit our industry by not benefiting our Sign Associations, or is it a dis-benefit and dis-service because it doesn't serve our Associations?

Well here is what's coming, when it comes to inviting government employees and appointees to WAGs, Widely Attending Gatherings (of diverse opinion or position, not just one)

Proposed OGE Regulations

Widely attended events (the name given under the House and Senate Gift Rules) and widely attended

gatherings (the executive branch’s version) are exemptions from the gift rules restrictions. Government

officials may attend events featuring a number of different people (more than 25 non-Congressional

attendees for the legislative branch) when the government attendee is either speaking at the event or his

or her attendance will further the government’s interest. These exemptions allow officials to attend events

such as trade shows, social gatherings, roundtable discussions, and other similar events where

government officials have the opportunity to interact with the private sector.

Since the beginning of the Obama administration, however - political appointees have been barred by

Executive Order 13490 from attending widely attended gatherings unless speaking at those events. This

order requires political appointees to sign “ethics pledges” that promise, among other things, that

appointees will not accept gifts from entities that employ or retain lobbyists. Therefore, events such as

tradeshows, panel discussions, and social events are off limits unless the political appointee is speaking

(attendance is limited to the day of the speech), or if the appointee pays admission.

OGE or Office of Govenment Ethics proposes to extend the EO to all executive branch employees. This will mean that organizations,

particularly associations (which often have events that fall into the widely attended category), will not be

allowed to invite executive branch employees to their widely attended events unless the employee has a

speaking role. This could have a major impact on associations that wish to interact with government

employees at their events.

Some are of the opinion that this will "Stifle" relations/eschange of information between government and the public sector. The OGE is quoted as saying:

"the problem is not the brazen quid pro quo, but rather the cultivation of familiarity and access that a lobbyist may use in the future to obtain a more sympathetic hearing for clients.” Same goes for social invitations: “the lobbyist could use social events as a way to build general good will with a class of employees in case access is needed for a future issue or client.”

Under the new proposal another issue being addressed is the "Registered Lobbyist" or "Lobbying Organization". While trade associations are calling on the OGE to categorically exempt Trade Associations from this definition, many believe this exemption is NOT justified. The OGE is quoted as saying:

“[t]rade associations may sponsor educational activities for their members and even the public, but the primary concern of such associations generally is not the education and development of members of a profession or discipline.”

The proposed rule did add some exemptions of lobbyists, and that's for Institutions of Higher Learning, Nonprofit Professional Associations, Scientific Orgs and Learned Societies. The OGE has said it acknowledges that certain WAGs provide educational and professional developments that may further agency interests, ” there is often a cozy relationship between these organizations and industry groups"

More than 400 Trade Associations have sent their comments and concerns similar to ISA's Letter attached.


Many business's are outraged with the Obama Administration for the proposal, "its a slap in the face" to business. This is odd, I thought Earlier in the year Lori Anderson of International Sign Association who wrote this letter to reconsider was orgasming over Obama's Apperance at Gelberg Signs, AND quoted as saying.

"he is giving us the tools" necessary to thrive in Business."

What happened? Many that run this Association have been for government meddling in the public sector, OSHA, Cap & Trade. Why the outrage?

What else does this proposal prevent?

• limits on the amount of money lobbyists and their employers can spend on public officials

• Gone are free tickets

• golf outings

• social trips

• regular one-on-one dinners with lobbyists

The Lobbying culture is upside down right now.

What will this mean for our Sign Industry, for you and I?

Well, if we look at the history of Associations and Legislation in the bigger picture outside our associations fighting signs codes and EMC's for their constituents fellow board executives. It might not mean a Damn Thing! It might be better for us as a industry, and as a country?

If you think about it, what will it do? What have our associations done for us except the two points listed above when it comes to regulation? In the past our Associations like International Sign Association, California Sign Association just roll with CA Title 24, Demand Response, the Energy Commission Decisions, OSHA and have just about managed to turn all of those into programs and seminars. Now we see a promotion of UL-E or UL Green Leaf as something of Non-Fiction.

You're all a bunch of children, get in line. They will make you a lunch, a snack, pat you on the head and send you off for schooling, and whatever else is to come.

Maybe some distance from government and bureaucracy and undoing of some cozyness will somehow benefit US! I can't say for certain, but if these associations just attend meetings with government to figure out a way to turn it into a program instead of doing what's right and fighting for freedoms and liberties then this new proposal/law from the OGE, can't hurt. Maybe something they don't like is somehow a benefit for you and I? I mean, if you're not going to make useful, with the time and resources you have, what loss will it be?

We live in an age where there it too much cozyness between public and government sectors, whether it be crony capitalism, Government and insider trading, bailouts. Just my opinion, but I think it will benefit us all not just our trade if we all just stay on a first name basis, and not cozy up.

We live in an a age where money talks, and ethics walk. Sometimes membership money drives, program profit farming are more important that our own ethics of doing what's right when it comes to protecting the reason why you're there in the first place. Oh I don't know, disciplining board exec/chair members and assoc. members who are in ethics violations.

Now, don't get me wrong, this new proposal may have some negative effects for us, but does it out way the possible benefits?

Just my thought for the day, I thought I'd share

You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. - Winston Churchill

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I think you're right Eric. IMO, the positive does outweigh the negative. I don't think this proposal is "a slap in the face to business," but rather returning trade associations to the purpose for which they were established. If ISA's board was actively following their own set of rules when it comes to ethics, I would take issue with this. However (and this conversation has been going on for quite some time), we rarely hear about the ISA actually standing up for the "little guy" and fighting for EVERYONE, not just the national companies.

You bring up some great points that I think people should actively think about. Lobbying is a joke anymore and let's be honest here, it's all about kissing the tush of the guy who has the most influence. I personally like the proposal, but hey, that's just me.

Thanks for the read this morning!

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