Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1996-11

Advisory Opinion No. 1996-11
Advisory Opinion No. 1996-11

Reportability Of Lobbyists’ Time Spent On Certain Aspects
Of Ethics Code Compliance And Education

The Code of Ethics for Lobbyists, Conn. Gen. Stat. Chapter 10, Part II, and the State Ethics Commission’s Regulations require registered lobbyists to report to the Commission expenditures made or received both for “lobbying,” i.e., communicating directly with public officials or soliciting others to do so, and for activities “in furtherance of lobbying.”  (See, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-919k), 1-96, et seq. and Regulations of Conn. State Agencies, 1-92-41, et seq.).  The term is not defined in the Lobbyist Code, but among those expenditures considered “in furtherance of lobbying” are secretarial salaries, copying, printing, postage and telephone charges, rent, entertainment expenses and amounts paid for research, formal testimony and the fostering of good will.  (See Regulations of Conn. State Agencies 1-92-48, 1-92-49; State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 93-14, 55 CLJ No. 4, p. 3E (July 27, 1993) and State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 94-19, 56 CLJ No. 12, p. 7C (September 20, 1994)).

The petitioner has asked whether a registered lobbyist is required to report to the State Ethics Commission expenditures made or received for time spent filling out reports to the State Ethics Commission, educating oneself concerning the requirements of the Ethics Codes (i.e., attending an Ethics Code seminar, speaking with Commission staff regarding the Code’s applications, independent research on Ethics Code subjects, preparing requests for advisory opinions) and participation in Commission audits.

As a practical matter, when a client lobbyist pays a lump sum or a periodic retainer for a communicator lobbyist’s efforts, such amounts include payments for filling out forms, necessary education and, presumably, participation in audits.  It is virtually inconceivable that the completion of necessary reports, education and cooperation with the State Ethics Commission would be considered extraordinary efforts and separable from a communicator lobbyist’s responsibilities.  Indeed, it would likely be quite burdensome for both client and communicator lobbyist, under such circumstances, to identify, and eliminate, the reporting of amounts paid or received for such efforts.  The remaining question, therefore, is whether a client lobbyist and its salaried employee or hourly-rate lobbyist must also report the pro rata value of the employee’s time or the hourly charge for time spent on such activities.

Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91(k)(4) and Regulations of Conn. State Agencies 1-92-42a, neither the preparation of lobbyist reporting forms, contact with the Commission for informational purposes, nor communications with the Commission regarding an advisory opinion or an audit is considered “administrative lobbying.”  Nevertheless, each activity is either an inevitable or a foreseeable concomitant of a registrant’s lobbying activities.  The Commission, in keeping with the legislative intent favoring disclosure, finds that expenditures made or received for time spent filling out reports to the State Ethics Commission, educating oneself concerning the requirements of the Ethics Code and participating in Commission audits are “in furtherance of lobbying” and must be reported to the State Ethics Commission.

By order of the Commission,

David T. Nassef
Chairperson



Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:01:36 AM