AU hired a lobbying firm to ensure the Army Corps of Engineers’ Spring Valley project would remain a priority of the U.S. government and maintain adequate funding.
The project consists of the search and removal of World War I munitions on AU-owned property.
“With no voting representation in Congress [Eleanor Holmes Norton’s D.C. delegate status excepted],” Camille Lepre said, assistant vice president for communications & media, in an email, “it was important that AU find elected officials who were sympathetic to our concern that the project funds not be diverted to another Corps projects, which did have a Congressman/woman advocating for it.”
The University employed D.C.-based Cassidy and Associates from 2005 to 2009. The annual expense for the company’s services was a little under $145,000. The money spent came from AU’s operating revenue, according to Lepre.
Other schools that have hired the firm include:
• Boston College
• Boston University
• Alfred University
• Seattle University
• Crowder College
• Creighton University
AT&T, Allstate, Walt Disney and the Embassy of Pakistan/the Islamic Republic of Iran are a few of Cassidy’s high-profile, non-academic customers, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, an organization that tracks money in politics.
“The University’s efforts benefited not only AU but the Spring Valley community by keeping the Corps funded and focused,” Lepre said. “During the term of the engagement, funding for the cleanup was increased substantially, enabling work to be completed in a much shorter time frame than originally planned.”
The lobbying services also helped keep costs down on one of the Spring Valley areas highlighted by the Army Corps called the Lot 18 project, Lepre said, since the sustained funding allowed the Corps could continue its work without disruption.
The University has a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status and is defined as a nonprofit organization. Under federal law, nonprofit organizations are allowed to lobby. But they are limited on the amount of money that can be spent on lobbying. Nonprofits are also not allowed to make direct campaign contributions, according to The Center for Non-Profit’s website.