Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1999-4

Advisory Opinion No. 1999-4
Advisory Opinion No. 1999-4

Application of Lobbyist Code to Connecticut Probate Assembly
and Its Outside Legislative Counsel

Robert K. Killian, Jr., the President-Judge of the Connecticut Probate Assembly ("Assembly"), has asked whether, under the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91 et seq., the Assembly and/or its outside legislative counsel need to register as lobbyists.

Under Conn. Gen. Stat. 45a-90, the Assembly is made up of all elected and qualified acting probate judges. Its purpose is to review the probate court system and make recommendations regarding that system to the probate court administrator. Probate judges are part of the judicial branch of state government, elected by district every four years. See Article Fifth of the Constitution of the State of Connecticut, Conn. Gen. Stat. 45a-18. The Lobbyist Code excludes from its definition of lobbyist "a public official, employee of a branch of state government or a subdivision thereof, or elected or appointed official of a municipality or his designee other than an independent contractor, who is acting with the scope of his authority or employment." Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91(l)(1). Therefore, the Assembly need not register as a lobbyist. Similarly, the Assembly’s officials and employees who lobby for the group need not register. Under Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91(l)(1), however, independent contractors performing lobbying activity for the Assembly do have to register as communicator lobbyists. See Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies 1-92-50(d) ("Those who are communicator lobbyists for a municipality or any subdivision of a municipality, a branch of state government or any subdivision of state government or a quasi-public agency shall file the reports described in …[the section on communicator lobbyist reporting] …utilizing the client lobbyist reporting schedule.")

In his letter, Judge Killian writes that the outside legislative counsel engaged by the Assembly "monitor[s] legislation of import to the Courts and …keep[s] our leadership apprised when their attendance will be necessary at the General Assembly or before other boards or commissions." If the Assembly’s outside counsel only monitors activity at the legislature, but does not communicate the Assembly’s views regarding possible legislation, then the outside counsel is not lobbying and need not register. If, however, the time spent in such monitoring includes time spent communicating with legislators and staff, and the total time reaches or exceeds $2000 in value, then the outside counsel must register.

By order of the Commission

Stanley Burdick,

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:02:57 AM