Does Staffer’s Bonus Trigger Lobbyist Restrictions?

Roll Call reports on the case of an unnamed junior staffer who may face restrictions on lobbying due to a bonus.

Under the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act, staffers earning at least 75 percent of their bosses’ salaries for more than 60 days trigger the lobbying moratorium.

According to Senate public records, 211 staffers who met the salary level — individuals whose annual rate of pay was equal to $126,975 or more for at least 60 days during the past 12 months — have left the Hill this year.

. . .

Still, the junior staffer facing a lobbying ban is rare, according to ethics lawyers.

In fact, staffers considering going to the private sector often consciously adjust their salaries in order to ensure that once they leave Congress they don’t face a lobbying ban.

What may be even more unusual is whether the Senate Ethics Committee would produce interpretive guidance on the issue.

The panel rarely puts out interpretive guidance — the last two times were in 1995 and 2002 — opting instead to give informal opinions on a case-by-case basis.

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