Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1996-22

Advisory Opinion No. 1996-22
Advisory Opinion No. 1996-22

Providing Legislative Information Through Use Of On-Line
Computer Service Is Lobbying

Andrew Weinraub, a research analyst at State and Federal Communications, has asked whether a legislative on-line computer service containing the promotion of or opposition to legislation relevant to a particular issue and made available to state legislators and other state government officials is "lobbying" as that term is defined in the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91 et seq.

"Lobbying" is defined as "communicating directly or soliciting others to communicate with any official or his staff in the legislative or executive branch of government or in a quasi-public agency, for the purpose of influencing any legislative or administrative action…" Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91(k). The first question Mr. Weinraub poses is whether such a legislative on-line service, by itself, is considered lobbying. Because the purpose of such a service is to disseminate a particular viewpoint with an eye to affecting legislative or administrative action, it would be considered lobbying. Therefore, the entity preparing and paying for the service would have to include the cost of the service in determining whether it has met the $2000.00 threshold for registration as a lobbyist. See, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-94, as amended by Public Act 96-11.

Mr. Weinraub’s second question is whether providing the on-line address to state legislators and public officials constitutes lobbying. Since providing the on-line service itself is lobbying, the act of telling state officials how to gain access to the service would be an activity in furtherance of lobbying, also subject to the reporting requirements of the Code. See Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91(l).

By order of the Commission,

Maurice FitzMaurice

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:01:37 AM