March 26, 2019

Vetting with illumis: Checking Lobbyist Registrations in 10 Seconds Flat

illumis helps save researchers and analysts significant time on projects like reputational risk and vetting research. illumis’ Search platform can help researchers quickly complete their vetting ‘checklists’ while significantly expanding the scope of their due diligence they can deliver – without requiring additional work.

Consider how illumis can make a big difference with one common item on a standard vetting checklist: lobbying registrations and disclosures. These public records represent an area of serious concern as they can point to conflicts of interest and undue influence, or in the absence of actual corruption, still create a problematic perception that something nefarious is afoot. The concerns around interactions with lobbyists is in part why President Obama rolled out new rules to reduce lobbyist influence during his time in the White House and why recent news reports have taken special interest in how former lobbyists have flooded the ranks of the Trump administration. In the past few years, connections to lobbyists and lobbying activity have underpinned a long list of scandals involving public officials.

Like many other public data sources, records related to lobbying exist scattered across hundreds of kludge-y federal, state, and local databases. This data can be difficult to access as it often comes in the form of handwritten pdfs, and it might be filed in an inconsistent manner. Data points like money spent, gifts given, clients represented, and other critical pieces of the lobbying puzzle can be reported in different places and be easily missed. Attempting to manually check all this information with every state is a tedious and time-consuming process, and a truly comprehensive research process isn’t sustainable in a high pressure and fast-moving environment.

When a lobbying search might be narrowed to just databases on a federal level, checking one person’s name might only take a few minutes, but when trying to clear a list of hundreds of names – whether for new political appointees or for a photoline at a fundraiser – the process of clicking through the process on even just a few government-run databases will quickly add up to become hours or even days in the long-run.

With illumis, we’ve made lobbyist checks as easy and as fast as possible. We’ve brought together the data for federal lobbying registrations including the US House, US Senate, and DOJ FARA in one simple search, along with the state-level lobbyist databases from all 50 states and DC, and major cities and counties across the country.

With illumis, searching all these lobbying databases takes only a few seconds, and with all of the searches being run in real-time, the results represent the most recent available information. If lobbying represents a particular concern for you, illumis Alerts can even be set to monitor and provide notifications whenever new filings post. With illumis, completing the lobbying portion of a vetting checklist is reduced to a fraction of the time and this adds up to major time saved.

Alongside lobbying records, illumis provides quick access to hundreds of other sources that can complete and expand a vetting checklist – including business registrations and licenses, campaign finance data, court records, data breaches and more. You can learn more about our Search platform here.

Please Note: This post was updated in June 2020 to reflect our company’s new name: illumis

In November of 2021, ComplySci announced the acquisition of illumis, a premier data aggregator and technology provider whose solutions are used by financial services firms to identify and mitigate risk from employee political contributions. While the initial acquisition saw the firms operating as two independent organizations, we are thrilled to announce the merging of the illumis and ComplySci brands. With this initiative, we aim to arm our clients with a more comprehensive solution to mitigating compliance risk, which includes the increased risk associated with employee political contributions.

Political contributions made by firm employees pose a significant threat to investment advisory firms. And even firms with the best compliance teams can be at risk of violating pay-to-play regulations, like the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) rule 206(4)-5, given the complexity of the rules and the myriad of regulations to which firms must comply.

Because of this, investment firms must arm themselves with the access to and support of real-time data, which can help identify potential violations and anomalies in the political donation process.

By leveraging real-time data, investment firms can quickly detect suspicious or unauthorized activities and take prompt action to prevent pay-to-play violations.

SEC Rule 206(4)-5 is arguably the most well known regulation regarding political contributions compliance or pay-to-play compliance. However, it certainly isn’t the only regulation to which firms must comply.

In fact, beyond federal regulations, firms which take part in government contracted work must contend with numerous and varied state and local regulations as well. Such regulations present unique challenges because of the various requirements within each, which should they be neglected, can cause significant financial and reputational damage.