Board Member Conflicts | eePRO @ NAAEE

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Board Member Conflicts

A few of RIEEA's board members work for or are funded significantly if not entirely by the federal government. They are concerned about the idea of RIEEA engaging in advocacy work, given that in their professional capacity they are required not to. If they do not engage in our advocacy work but they sit on the board representing their agencies, is that a problem? Does anyone know for sure?

We haven't had too many issues with this, however, I always tell people that government employees CAN advocate/lobby as a private citizen, just not representing their agency. You might also look up the legal definitions between lobbying and advocacy- because there is a lot of advocacy that can happen that doesn't qualify as lobbying that isn't as problematic for government agencies. I believe most federal agencies have their own internal rules about sitting on non-profit boards, which might give more specific guidance. I sit on another coalition with a lot of government agencies and nonprofits, where when we vote on supporting policy, government employees abstain from the vote and its recorded in the minutes, but the group still takes a stance.

Some of our board members serve as a part of a state/local/non-profit job, so they are limited in helping with advocacy work as an official EENC member. However, as Katie said, they can always choose to advocate as a private citizen. We try to be flexible with our board members who might be limited by their jobs and we take turns carrying the load.