Lobbying Limitations for Nonprofits

Many arts nonprofit charities advocate for social issues through their art or for funding or other government grants and contracts. But where does that advocacy cross over into lobbying and what are the limitations and implications for nonprofits that want to communicate with the government, directly or indirectly?

Join Lawyers for the Creative Arts for a session on how to navigate lobbying rules for 501(c)(3) nonprofits. Attorneys Scott Saef, a Sidley Austin LLP senior counsel, will discuss lobbying regulations with a focus on the City of Chicago, other Illinois local governments and the State of Illinois. Attorney Michael Clark, a Sidley retired partner, will discuss IRS rules governing the boundaries of lobbying as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and how to avoid risks as you advocate for with government.

The session will be hybrid, with the option to join in-person at Sidley Austin LLP’s offices in downtown Chicago or on Zoom. In-person attendees, please arrive by 11:50am to receive a complimentary lunch at the event. The attorneys will take questions from the audience in both formats at the end of the 40 minute-long presentation. CLE for this program is pending.


About the Speakers:


Michael Clark

Michael Clark is a retired partner in the Chicago office of Sidley Austin LLP and former Co-Chair of the Sidley NonProfit Institutions Practice Area Team. He advises tax exempt organizations in many fields -- education, healthcare, arts, public charities, and religious institutions. His practice also includes advice to companies and individuals on a broad range of federal, state and local tax issues. A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, and an editor of the Harvard Law Review, Mike’s professional associations are numerous and distinguished. To name a few, he has been a member of the Council of the American Bar Association Section of Taxation (2010-13); a fellow of the American College of Tax Counsel; and past Chair of the American Bar Association Section of Taxation Exempt Organizations Committee (former Chair, Intermediate Sanctions Subcommittee and current Co-Chair, Audit and Appeals Subcommittee). He was called on to assist in important regulatory changes at the federal level, including changes to IRS Form 990, comments on changes to the Form 1023, and testimony at the IRS Hearing on section 4958 (excess benefit transactions). Mike is a board member of Lawyers for the Creative Arts, serving on the Executive Committee as Past President.


Scott Saef, Sidley Austin LLP

Scott Saef has, for over 25 years, assisted clients with addressing local regulatory issues and obtaining zoning approvals, efficiently combining on each assignment a substantial knowledge of local government law and procedure with broad-ranging tactical experience. 

Scott’s land use, incentive and property tax practice involves frequent appearances before a range of government bodies, both administrative and legislative, in the Chicago metropolitan area with which he works to bring to fruition a variety of projects, particularly focused on commercial, industrial, institutional, transportation, utility and educational initiatives. Scott’s work has included significant interaction with the City of Chicago and its agencies, including the Chicago City Council, Chicago Plan Commission, Department of Planning and Department of Transportation, as well as variety of suburban jurisdictions. Scott also coordinates land use and zoning activities in out-of-state locations, working cooperatively with a network of land use practitioners around the country to help clients with portfolios of properties manage the entitlement process and maintain a consistent approach.

Scott also counsels clients in opportunities for economic development assistance—such as tax increment financing and state income tax incentives—as well as State and local property tax matters, including property tax assessment challenges for complex properties, property tax division and exemption petitions, property tax incentive matters and payment-in-lieu-of-tax arrangements. 

Scott worked as an attorney for the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives in 1993 and later worked actively on behalf of an Illinois public utility on landmark legislation deregulating that state’s electric utility industry. Prior to joining the firm, Scott worked as a business reporter for several daily newspapers covering the real estate industry, land use and growth. At Northwestern School of Law, Scott was the Coordinating Articles Editor of the Northwestern University Law Review