Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1995-13

Advisory Opinion No. 1995-13
Advisory Opinion No. 1995-13

 Lawyer Who Works To Affect Legislation Is Lobbyist As
That Term is Defined By Code Of Ethics For Lobbyists

As a result of several questions which have been raised, State Ethics Commission Supervising Attorney Rachel S. Rubin has asked the Ethics Commission to reaffirm its interpretation of the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91 et seq., with regard to lawyers who work to affect the actions of the General Assembly.  Apparently, there may be some confusion as a result of legislation which was passed in June of this year (Public Act 95-44).  Under P.A. 95-144, the definition of lobbying was altered to exclude “communications by an attorney made while engaging in the practice of law and regarding any matter other than legislative action as defined in [Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91(j)] or the proposal, drafting, development, consideration, amendment, adoption or repeal of any rule or regulation.”  (See State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 95-12 for a discussion of the term “practice of law.”)  “Legislative action” is broadly defined as “the introduction, sponsorship, consideration, debate, amendment, passage, defeat, approval, veto, overriding of a veto or any other official action or nonaction with regard to any bill, resolution, amendment, nomination, appointment, report, or any other matter pending or proposed in a committee or in either house of the legislature, or any matter which is within the official jurisdiction or cognizance of the legislature.”  Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91(j).

As has been the case since the inception of the Codes of Ethics and the State Ethics Commission, and as is clear even from the very language of the revised definition of “lobbying,” lawyers who attempt to affect legislative action are lobbying and must register if they meet the relevant threshold.  Such lobbying to affect legislative action includes not only contact with legislators and their staff, but also contact with executive branch officials and employee meant to influence their actions with regard to the legislative process.

Similarly, lawyers who attempt to affect an executive branch agency rule or regulation in the ways enumerated above are lobbying even if their activities may also be considered the practice of law.

By order of the Commission,

David T. Nassef

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:01:11 AM