News for the Hospitality Executive
D.C., October 6, 2011
– The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) today
comments regarding the Obama administration’s proposed rule restricting
government employees from accepting free invitations to attend
programs, and other events hosted by companies and trade associations
The U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE) was directed by the White House to extend the lobbyist gift ban adopted by President Obama for political appointees in 2009 to all federal employees, publishing the proposed rule in the Federal Register on September 13. The proposed rule would end a long recognized “widely attended gathering” (WAG) exception that allows federal employees to attend certain conferences, seminars, and educational events in cases where the sponsor is registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 (“LDA”).
The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), which represents associations and association professionals, believes “trade associations are unjustifiably excluded from the exception, and that government employees benefit greatly from attending programs, seminars, trade shows and other events held by associations that represent different industries.” ASAE will also be filing comments in opposition to this proposed rule.
AH&LA provided its relevant perspective on the WAG exception in today’s comments. In addition to being registered under the LDA, AH&LA’s members also frequently serve as venues for the widely-attended gatherings that federal employees would be proscribed from attending.
“As representatives of the lodging industry, we have heard the concerns of our members,” said AH&LA President/CEO Joe McInerney. “Hotels are often the sites for conferences and events that federal employees would be banned from attending, thereby creating a direct negative impact to our business. This would have grave consequences for hotels, the economy, and the millions of workers our industry employs.”
“We are concerned that this rule would negatively impact communication between government and the public, leading to less informed policy,” said AH&LA Executive Vice President for Public Policy Marlene Colucci. “Currently, federal employees can gain a better understanding of specific business concerns by interacting with our diverse event attendees. Similarly, attendees learn about the intricacies of laws and regulations affecting their business. If this rule were implemented, this valuable exchange of knowledge would end.”
AH&LA will work with ASAE on this rule that will not only be detrimental to both the organizations and venues that host such events, but also to the government’s ability to create informed public policy. To read the full comments, click here.
Serving the hospitality industry for a century, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) is the sole national association representing all sectors and stakeholders in the lodging industry, including individual hotel property members, hotel companies, student and faculty members, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides members with national advocacy on Capitol Hill, public relations and image management, education, research and information, and other value-added services to provide bottom-line savings and ensure a positive business climate for the lodging industry. Partner state associations provide local representation and additional cost-saving benefits to members.
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