Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1998-19

Advisory Opinion No. 1998-19
Advisory Opinion No. 1998-19

Application Of The Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-97 (d)Notification Requirement
To Events Hosted By A Group Of Lobbyists

Effective January 1, 1998, The Code Of Ethics For Lobbyists, Conn. Gen. Stat. Chapter 10, Part II, was amended to require that:

Any person who gives to a public official, state employee or candidate for public office, or a member of any such person’s staff or immediate family anything of value which is subject to the reporting requirements pursuant to subsection (e) of section 1-96 of the general statutes, shall, not later than ten days thereafter, give such recipient a written report stating the name of the donor, a description of the item or items given, the value of such items and the cumulative value of all items given to such recipient during that calendar year…Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-97(d).

In State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 98-18, __ CLJ No. __, p. __ (_______), the Commission reiterated that the itemization requirements of 1-96(e) apply not only to individual lobbyist expenditures of ten dollars or more per person per occasion but also to such expenditures made by a group of lobbyists. The Commission has now been asked how the 1-97(d) notification requirement will apply to these group expenditures for the benefit of a public official, etc?

For purposes of providing a response to this query, assume the following hypothetical event, a holiday party for the members of the General Assembly, which is hosted by a group of lobbyists with the following lobbyist contributions: Lobbyist A contributes $1,000 for food; Lobbyist B contributes $5,000 for food; Lobbyist C contributes beer and wine valued at $2,000; and Lobbyist D contributes $2,000 for room rental, invitations, and flowers. The per person food and drink cost for the 200 attendees is forty dollars; with this entire amount being paid for by the lobbyist contributors.

As set forth in A. O. No. 98-18, since this per person cost is above the 1-96(e) itemization threshold (ten dollars), each lobbyist contributing to the food and drink must itemize the expenditure, even though Lobbyist A has individually contributed less than the threshold amount (i.e., $1,000 divided by 200 attendees = five dollars per person). As a consequence, each of these lobbyists must also provide the 1-97(d) notification to benefit recipients.

However, in order to avoid duplicative paperwork, and its attendant cost, the Commission hereby rules that the contributing lobbyists may fulfill the notification requirement with one joint notice, as long as that document includes all the information mandated pursuant to 1-97(d).

Finally, in valuing expenditures for the benefit of a public official, etc., only that which is "directly and personally received" is to be included. Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91(g); Regulations of Conn. State Agencies Sec. 1-92-54(b). Therefore, Lobbyist D, who paid only for room rental, invitations, and flowers, has not made an itemizable expenditure for the benefit of a public official etc., and need not provide the 1-97(d) notification.

By order of the Commission,

Stanley Burdick

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:02:27 AM