Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1997-8

Advisory Opinion No. 1997-8
Advisory Opinion No. 1997-8

Application Of The Ban On Contingent Fee Lobbying
To Efforts To Validate A Lottery Award

On October 13, 1995, the winning ticket was selected in the biweekly Connecticut Lotto drawing with a prize of approximately 5.9 million dollars. Pursuant to Lottery Rules, and as set forth on each Lotto ticket, to be valid a winning ticket must be presented to the Connecticut Lottery Corporation within one year from the date of its drawing. Conn. Lottery Corp. Rules, Sec. 3(c)(2)(B). This particular award, however, was not claimed until shortly after the one year period had elapsed. As a consequence, the Lottery Corporation has declined to recognize the validity of the claim and has refused to issue any payment to the ticketholder.

After this administrative rejection of his claim, the ticketholder commenced efforts to have the award in question validated by the General Assembly. In furtherance of these efforts, the claimant has sought to retain a professional lobbyist as his representative. Apparently, however, the individual lacks sufficient current funds to pay for such representation. As a result, certain registered lobbyists have contacted the Ethics Commission to determine if it is permissible, under the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists, Conn. Gen. Stat. Chapter 10, Part II, to represent the claimant, with payment for the representation to be made only after the lottery award is approved.

Under Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-97(b), "No person shall be employed as a lobbyist for compensation which is contingent upon the outcome of any…legislative action." It is unarguable that the fee in this matter would be available to be paid only after, and if, the outcome of the lobbying effort is successful. Therefore, the proposed arrangement is, without question, barred by 1-97(b).

In closing, the Commission wishes to emphasize that its Ruling should in no way be construed as prohibiting or improperly restricting the claimant’s constitutional right to personally petition the General Assembly regarding this matter. Constitution of the State of Connecticut, Article First, Sec. 14. Furthermore, the Lobbyist Code would not proscribe any pro bono efforts undertaken on his behalf.

By order of the Commission,

Maurice FitzMaurice

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:02:03 AM