This Sunday, The New York Times ran a front page story on last fall’s Office of Government Ethics proposed rule limiting federal employee participation at some trade association events. The story said the Office of Government Ethics “is now weighing the response to the proposal it made last September.” ASAE has submitted a letter to the editor from ASAE President & CEO John Graham CAE explaining why the proposal would restrict important knowledge-sharing between the government and trade associations.
Associations from across the country, nine Democratic members of Congress, and multiple federal agencies all wrote to the White House this fall asking OGE to reconsider differentiating trade and professional associations and prohibiting participation in trade association meetings. These comments and examples led to the White House Counsel’s Office accepting an ASAE meeting request in January on the issue. At the meeting ASAE volunteer leadership shared their concerns over limiting federal employee participation in meetings as well as IRS Form 990 data showing that all associations regardless of type spend much more on educational programs than lobbying.
ASAE hopes that, when reviewing the proposed rule, OGE will consider the overwhelming number of submitted examples of dialogue and coordination with the private sector that trade association meetings provide. When we last sent an action alert in the fall, over 450 associations joined ASAE’s comments opposing the trade association provision. ASAE will take action later this week to again remind the Administration of the value of association meetings.