Lobbying firm, sued for allegedly failing to comply with federal reporting law, faces millions in fines

Jessica M. Karmasek Jun. 11, 2013, 3:00pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, in a complaint filed in a federal court last week, is accusing a lobbying firm of failing to comply with federal reporting requirements.

In its 14-page complaint, filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the government alleges that Biassi Business Services Inc. knowingly failed to comply with the periodic reporting requirements of the Lobbying Disclosure Act -- and failed to remedy the delinquent filings after being notified by the Secretary of the U.S. Senate and the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"As such, and because BBSI has failed to remedy its unlawful actions despite a plethora of notices from the House, Senate and the U.S. Attorney's Office, the United States brings this action," Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Hudak wrote.

The government notes in its complaint that despite BBSI's name, it has been unable to identify any state of incorporation for the West Hempstead, N.Y.-based business.

The firm, the government alleges, began its "habitual practice" of knowingly failing to timely file LD-2 Reports and failing to correct delinquent reports in mid-2009.

Under the LDA, individual lobbyists and lobbying firms employing in-house lobbyists, or registrants, are required to provide periodic reports of their lobbying activity to the House and Senate.

The LDA was amended effective Jan. 1, 2008 by the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 to require more frequent reports of lobbying activity and the filing of semiannual reports detailing contribution activities.

In all, the government alleges that BBSI failed to file more than 100 federal reports on time.

On top of failing to file 28 quarterly LD-2 Reports on a timely basis, the firm on 13 occasions failed to remedy its delinquent filings within 60 days of receiving notice.

The government contends BBSI's LDA violations also spread to include failures to file LD-203 Reports for itself, as a registrant, and its employed lobbyists.

"Specifically, despite receiving numerous notices from the House and Senate regarding BBSI's failures to file LD-203 reports, BBSI failed to file timely LD-203 reports for the following eight semiannual periods, totaling 96 delinquent reports," Hudak wrote.

"Not only did BBSI fail to file the above noted LD-203 reports on a timely basis, but for a number of these LD-203 reports, BBSI also failed to file them within 60 days of receiving delinquency notices from the House and Senate."

Specifically, the government alleges, BBSI failed to file 28 LD-203 reports within 60 days of receiving delinquency notices from the House and Senate.

The government is seeking civil penalties or fines, not to exceed $200,000 per violation, for each knowing failure to comply and each knowing failure to remedy a defective filing under the LDA.

Read the government's complaint here.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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