Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1998-24

Advisory Opinion No. 1998-24
Advisory Opinion No. 1998-24

Classification Of Lobbyist Expenditures For Entertainment Of Public
Officials As Expenditures In Furtherance Of Lobbying

Nicholas Simeonidis, Senior Corporate Counsel for UST, has questioned whether the payment of a tab at a restaurant bar by a client lobbyist for a legislator or a legislative or gubernatorial staff member is an expenditure in furtherance of lobbying as that term is used in the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91 et seq. Mr. Simeonidis’ question arises in connection with filling out the client lobbyist financial report, which provides two spaces for the itemization of expenditures for the benefit of public officials. One space is for expenditures which are unrelated to lobbying; the other is for expenditures which are in furtherance of lobbying.

The Commission has previously considered the question of what is meant by the phrase "in furtherance of lobbying." In State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 93-14, 55 Conn. L.J. 4, p.3E (7/27/93), the Commission defined the phrase to include "activities and expenditures which foster good will between lobbyists and public officials, such as social occasions where issues are not actually discussed, unless the activity is clearly personal and unrelated to any lobbying purpose." It is a logical extension of this definition that a corporation does not make "clearly personal" expenditures; it is possible, however, that a registered communicator lobbyist, who is an individual, may make such a personal expenditure.

Although a corporation cannot make a personal expenditure, a corporation which has business ties to the state in addition to lobbying may make an expenditure unrelated to lobbying. For example, a corporation/registered lobbyist may have a contract to provide computers and computer services to a particular state agency, and in the course of the performance of that contract, a representative of the corporation may provide dinner to the agency’s commissioner. Although not in furtherance of lobbying, the law requires the meal to be itemized on the corporation’s lobbyist financial report. Such an expenditure should be reported in the space denoted "unrelated to lobbying."

Absent such a clear business purpose, if a corporation which is a registered lobbyist pays for the entertainment of a public official at, as Mr. Simeonidis has termed it, a "purely social" occasion, that expenditure has been made in furtherance of lobbying and should be reported as such.

By order of the Commission,

Stanley Burdick,

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