The Johns Hopkins University (JHU) and Johns Hopkins Health System (JHHS) are committed to the free and open expression of ideas.  The university encourages members of the JHU community — students, faculty, and staff — to be engaged civically and to participate in the electoral process at all levels: local, state, and federal.

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Lobbying Overview

The right to lobby, or petition the government to influence public policy, is one of the most treasured in a democracy. Lobbying is broadly defined as any attempt to influence an elected official for the purpose of influencing legislative action. Regulations differ significantly between state, local and federal jurisdictions. The rules require the university to publicly report all lobbying activity and prohibit the use of government funds, including grant awards, for lobbying activities.

A general overview appears below. Of course, no set guidelines can address every potential situation. Please contact State and Local Affairs at or the Office of Federal Strategy for additional information and guidance.

What qualifies as “lobbying contact”?

Lobbying contact includes any oral or written communication with an elected official on behalf of the University to influence legislation; an executive order, agency rule or government position; the negotiation, award or administration of a government contract, grant, loan, permit or license. “Lobbying Contact” does not include testimony provided as a member of the public on the record; information provided in writing at the request of an official; or written response to an invitation for public commentary.

If you have been invited to testify before a government body, have any questions about engaging in lobbying at the local, state or federal level, or a question about ethics and compliance please reach out to us at

A document containing additional information including what constituents lobbying and guidelines on interactions with elected officials can be found at: Lobbying FAQ.

Engagement in Campaign Activity

The university  encourages all University affiliates to be informed and engaged citizens in the democratic process. The University facilitates access to the electoral process and education for all eligible voters regardless of political affiliation. However, the university and health system, as tax-exempt organizations, may not itself participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office. Employees may engage in campaign activity solely in an individual capacity on personal time. A violation, whether intentional or unintentional, could have serious ramifications for the university.

The documents below provide practical guidance to members of the Johns Hopkins community on complying with university and health system policy and IRS requirements.  These include a list of frequently asked questions, guidelines, a memo from the American Council on Education on political campaign related activities and a recording of a JHU/JHM virtual town hall on this subject.

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Guidelines for Campaign Activity | Campaign FAQs

Lobbying FAQ | American Council on Education’s: Memo on political campaign related activities

Of course, no set of guidelines can address every potential situation. Questions should be addressed to the Johns Hopkins University General Counsel’s Office (410-516-8128) or the Johns Hopkins Health System General Counsel’s Office (410-614-3323) or State and Local Affairs at or the Office of Federal Strategy.