Legislative service organization

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The term legislative service organization (LSO) "refers to a particular category of working groups, or caucuses, organized to provide legislative services and assistance to Members and certified by the Committee on House Administration. Through an LSO, Members may pool their official resources to pursue common legislative goals. Since LSO's are supported by official resources, they may not receive any private funding. In addition to the House rules applicable to all Members, officers, and employees, LSO's are subject to specific Committee on House Administration regulations." [1]

Restrictions & Requirements

  • The organization must consist solely of Members of the House or Members of the House and Senate, 30 of whom or two thirds of the organization's membership, whichever is less, attest that they are sponsors;
  • It must operate solely to provide legislative service or other assistance to its members in the performance of official duties;
  • Resources may be provided through allocation of expenses to, or dues or assessments from, the allowances of Members of Congress, but no income or contributions either in cash or in kind, may be received from any unofficial source;
  • The organization may not be incorporated or hold separate tax exempt status; and
  • Quarterly public disclosure reports must be filed with the Clerk of the House detailing receipts, expenditures, and activities.

Sources: CongressLink and House Ethics Manual.


  • "LSO's are governed by regulations of the Committee on House Administration. Neither LSO's nor any less formal caucuses that are similarly supported with official funds may receive any outside income or contributions from unofficial sources." [3]
  • "Restrictions on LSO's derived from the principle that 'Members should not be allowed to do collectively -- through a legislative service organization -- what the Rules of the House prohibited Members from doing individually.' Thus, like any other congressional office, an LSO must comply with House Rule 45; no private resources, whether monetary or in-kind, may be used for its operation. Any group that receives private contributions or income may not receive support from official allowances and may not provide legislative services to Members. Conversely, an LSO may not use official resources to support the operations of a private organization. Like other congressional offices, however, LSO's may distribute to Members reports, analyses or research material prepared by private parties, as long as the true source of the material is disclosed." [4]


"Members may not permit any non-House organization or individual to use expressions or symbols that might erroneously convey official endorsement, particularly of a commercial enterprise." [5]

Joint Endeavors

"Joint endeavors, undertaken with a combination of private resources and officials funds, are generally prohibited. This does not preclude the personal involvement of Members and employees with private undertakings, including lending their names to specific causes. However, congressional resources may not be used to support private activities and no official endorsement may be suggested. Members have greater leeway in undertaking cooperative programs with Federal, state, and local government agencies." [6]

Shared Goals

"The formal and informal House organizations described above often share goals with private non-House entities. Sometimes Members who have formed a House caucus are affiliated with a private foundation or institute with similar objectives. Members and House support organizations may cooperate with these private entities, subject to all the generally applicable restrictions on involvement with outside organizations. Where a private group supports objectives similar to those of a Member or caucus, they may coordinate activities as long as care is taken to prevent cross-infusion of public and private resources.

"No private group may imply official House sponsorship. The letterheads of a House caucus and any outside organization with related goals should be sufficiently distinct as to avoid any confusion of identities. No outside organization may use any official funds or resources, including House office space, the frank, and staff time. If an employee works for both an official and an unofficial entity, he or she should keep careful time records documenting that neither organization is subsidizing the other. Public and private funds must be kept absolutely separate. While private groups may raise private funds, these funds may not be used to support any official functions. Official and unofficial organizations may not co-sponsor events, although Members, individually or collectively, may cooperate in privately sponsored events." [7]

Congressional Support Agencies

LSOs are "are distinct from the congressional support agencies--the Office of Technology Assessment, the General Accounting Office, the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, and the Congressional Budget Office--all of which are legislative branch agencies funded directly by congressional appropriations." [8]

Related SourceWatch Resources

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