The Catholic University of America

Summary of Federal Laws

Miscellaneous Laws Affecting Universities

Compliance Partners

General Counsel

Director of Alumni Relations

Director of Law School Institutional Advancement

VP and Chief of Staff

Ethics in Government Act of 1978 (amended by the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 and the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007

5 U.S.C.A. App. 4 § 101 et seq. and 5 U.S.C. § 7353; 5 C.F.R. § 2635, and 41 C.F.R. §§ 301-1 and 304-1

Members of Congress and officers and employees of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches are barred from soliciting or accepting anything of value from anyone seeking official action from, doing business with, or conducting activities regulated by the individual's employing entity or whose interests may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the individual's official duties.

A private university that does not employee a lobbyist is subject to the following restrictions:


The University may provide a gift, which includes anything of monetary value, such as a meal to a member of Congress or a staffer, if the gift's value is less than $50. For each member and staffer, there is an annual gift maximum of $99.99, but gifts valued at less then $10 do not count toward the limit. Cash gifts or equivalents (e.g. gift cards) are prohibited.

Free attendance for members of Congress or staffers to events sponsored by the university is allowed. The school may pay admission fees, including food costs, for a member of Congress or his/her staff to attend a convention, dinner or the like if the event is related to his/her Congressional duties; at least 25 people (other than members of Congress, staff and their family) are expected to attend the event and the event is open to members of the public, to those in a given industry or profession or to a range of persons interested in the subject matter. The invitation must come directly from the school.

The school may pay the fees for the member of Congress or staff to attend for free most fundraising events, as long as their attendance is on the same terms as others attending the event. This means that a member of Congress could not attend for free a VIP dinner that follows a charity reception.

Members of Congress or staffers may be invited to a business meeting or small reception that has no admission fee. The food served at such an event can only be of nominal value.

Free tickets to sporting events with a face value of less than $50 may be provided as long as the annual $99.99 gift maximum for the staffer or member of Congress will not be exceeded.

Members of Congress or staffers may be invited on privately sponsored travel but the House Committee or the Senate Select Committee on Ethics must pre-approve any sponsored travel. See for House certification forms and for Senate forms. Reimbursement for necessary travel, lodging and related expenses is permissible.

For more on the law see the ACE memo titled What do the New Rules on Lobbying Congress Signify for Colleges and Universities?



updated 1-2-18