Lobbying Firm Faces Fine up to $5.2 Million

Lobbying Firm Faces Fine up to $5.2 Million Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ. U.S. Capitol.

An Alexandria, Va., firm and its owner face a fine of up to $5.2 million for allegedly failing to submit more than two dozen lobbying reports to Congress on time, according to a civil complaint the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia filed.

Alan Mauk and his firm, Alan Mauk Associates Ltd., didn’t comply with requirements of the Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA), which governs the reporting of federal lobbyists’ activities, government lawyers said in the complaint filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Senate and House notified Mauk and his firm at least 22 times about late paperwork, the complaint says.

“Despite being provided with numerous notices of their noncompliance, Defendants have repeatedly and routinely failed to file lobbying disclosure reports as is required under the LDA,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Darrell Valdez wrote in the complaint. “Accordingly, Defendants are liable for civil penalties under the LDA.”

Mauk didn’t have an immediate comment.

From 2009 to 2013, Mauk and his firm were delinquent in filing at least 13 quarterly lobbying activity reports and at least 13 semiannual reports concerning lobbyists’ campaign donations, according to the complaint. Under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, the defendants can face a fine of up to $200,000 per violation.

During that period, Mauk, who is the sole lobbyist at his firm, lobbied for about a half-dozen clients, according to congressional records. The clients included the Chickasaw Nation and Oklahoma Department of Transportation. His compensation from each of his clients was no more than $10,000 per quarter from 2009 to 2013, but typically was less than $5,000.

The complaint against Mauk and his firm was the second such civil action filed by the U.S. attorney’s office in less than a year. In June, the office filed a civil suit against Biassi Business Services Inc. for failing to turn in 124 federal lobbying reports, amounting to a potential fine of $33 million, at most. In December, then-U.S. District Court Judge Robert Wilkins entered a default judgment against Biassi Business Services, ordering the government to collect $200,000 from the firm.

Prior to the judgment against Biassi Business Services, the U.S. attorney’s office reached settlements with the lobbyists in all past Lobbying Disclosure Act actions seeking fines or civil penalties, and revealed to the U.S. Government Accountability Office in the agency’s annual report on compliance with the law.

Under U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen Jr., appointed in 2010, government lawyers in Washington have announced settlements with three lobbying firms. From 1995 to 2010, the office settled with only three lobbyists.

Contact Andrew Ramonas at aramonas@alm.com.