PRESIDENT, CEO AND FOUNDER OF STATE AND FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS INC.
Government relations, advocacy and lobbying: lawfully influencing legislation and currying favor for one’s client. A practice as old as time that is important as ever in the United States. The word “lobbyist” goes back to President Ulysses S. Grant. President Grant would venture to the Willard Hotel, which is near the White House, to imbibe in his brandy and ritual cigar while meeting with important people in the Willard Hotel’s lobby to petition him for favors. The practice in principle remains the same, however, the process has evolved at both the state and federal level.
Elizabeth Bartz, President, CEO and founder of State and Federal Communications Inc., has been working with Fortune 500 companies, trade associations, government, and law firms for 30 years. State and Federal Communications serves a broad range of clientele to ensure they are in compliance with state and federal government lobbying and campaign laws and regulations.
During Elizabeth’s tenure, the advent of the internet has changed the way reporting takes place which is now faster and more transparent. “You would get an envelope from a state that said something along the lines of: “here is the form you have to fill out for your lobbying report, and that was it. You filled out the form and your reporting obligations were complete. Today, for large corporate clients that have reporting obligations in multiple states, one has to know how to navigate through what could be a daunting task.”
The digital process is more efficient and produces a substantially reduced paper trail but requires skilled professionals to assist their clients to comply as every state has their own unique reporting procedures and requirements. Elizabeth agrees that technological advancements have been critical to modernizing lobbying processes and leveling the playing field. Artificial Intelligence (AI) has also begun to make an impact; however, the future of AI and lobbying is limited.
“We are learning a lot about how AI can affect things, but I think it’s important we’re not depending on it to get the information from any state. We’re going out and doing the research ourselves. Our clients are concerned about relying on AI to glean state and federal requirements and dovetail them with accurate reporting.”
Every year is an election year with state and federal regulations governing campaign finances and reporting in constant flux. For example, campaign funding has new limits. “You can’t run your campaign in 2024 the way you did in 2014 or in 1994; the cost of doing business is different; campaigning is expensive and requires substantial funding.” The number one mistake individuals and corporate clients make is to exceed candidate financing limits. Elizabeth and her team developed their own proprietary process to avoid such mistakes that could prove embarrassing to her clients.
“We vet a lot of contributions for our clients; they are busy and can overlook making mistakes, as benign as contributing for the company’s corporate political action committee (PAC) and double-dipping from another source. They may not remember, then wind-up hearing
from the campaign finance regulators. Individuals also need to know whether their spouse or other family member contributed to the same candidate to ensure they don’t exceed mandated limits.”
Aside from her work overseeing a team of 30+ employees at State and Federal Communications, Elizabeth is actively involved in faith-based and civic philanthropy, volunteerism and in giving back. “I am a steward on many fronts that have nothing to do with work; our Greek heritage inspires us to be ambassadors of our community, and that is what I strive to do in my life and set an example for others to follow in theirs.”
by Elena Kefalogianni