Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1994-4

Advisory Opinion No. 1994-4
Advisory Opinion No. 1994-4

Disclosure Of Advertising Expenditures

Pursuant to the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists, Chapter 10, Part II, Connecticut General Statutes, certain purchases of advertising space in a program booklet for a political fundraising event are excluded from the definition of a gift, as long as these expenditures are properly reported.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91(g)(1).  See also Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-333b(11).  Attorney Paul L. McCormick from the law firm of Updike, Kelly and Spellacy, P.C. has asked whether such purchases, nonetheless, are expenditures for the benefit of a public official and/or expenditures in furtherance of lobbying which must be reported on the lobbyist financial disclosure forms.

The State Ethics Commission has broadly defined the term “expenditures in furtherance of lobbying” to include any expenditure which fosters goodwill between lobbyists and public officials.  State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 93-14, 55 Conn. L.J. No. 4, p. 3E (7/27/93).  The purchase of advertising space in a program in connection with a fundraising event is an attempt to foster goodwill with the political candidate.  The General Assembly, however, has mandated that such expenditures must be disclosed in the campaign finance reports.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-333(j)(c)(1)(F).  In addition, individual lobbyists that make political contributions to or purchases from committees in excess of $1000 in the aggregate during a twelve month period beginning July 1 must file a campaign disclosure report with the secretary of state.  Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-333(1)(j) as amended by P.A. 93-251.  This report must include disclosure of purchases of advertising space in a program in connection with a fundraising event.  Id.

Since its establishment in 1978, the State Ethics Commission has considered campaign contributions to be expenditures in furtherance of lobbying.  Consequently, in January 1981, the State Ethics Commission submitted a regulation which would have required disclosure of campaign contributions made by lobbyists.  The Legislative Regulations Review Committee refused to approve the regulation until the Commission had specific statutory authority to require the disclosure.  In 1982, the Legislature rejected the recommendation of the Codes of Ethics Study Committee to amend the Lobbyist’s Code to require lobbyists to report campaign contributions to the State Ethics Commission.  See Report to the General Assembly by the Codes of Ethics Study Committee, p. 33, January 15, 1983.  As a result, absent a legislative change, expenditures for advertising space for political fundraising booklets should not be included in the lobbyist financial disclosure forms when such expenditures are also reported in the campaign finance reports.

By order of the Commission,

Christopher T. Donohue
Chairperson



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