Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 1999-6

Advisory Opinion No. 1999-6
Advisory Opinion No. 1999-6

Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Reporting Requirements To
Solicitation With Multiple Purposes

A client lobbyist organization has asked the State Ethics Commission how the reporting requirements of The Code Of Ethics For Lobbyists, Conn. Gen. Stat. Chapter 10, Part II, would apply to the following situation. The Client, a non-profit organization, plans to undertake an advertising campaign designed to combat homelessness. The ad campaign does not refer to pending legislation. Rather, the ads contain the Organization’s phone number and a generalized request to contact the group to help end homelessness. Those responding to the request are solicited to provide volunteer services and donations and are also asked to contact their representatives in the General Assembly to lobby for state funding.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Lobbyist Code, expenditures in furtherance of lobbying, including paid media communications that refer to pending legislative action, are reportable. Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91(f), 1-96(e). Given that the ads in question lack any such reference, reporting is not triggered by this requirement. In addition, however, disclosure is required of solicitations of other persons to communicate with a public official for the purpose of influencing any legislative act. Id. Under this provision, disclosure of the Client Organization’s advertising and phone campaigns will be required.

Since, however, the solicitation has multiple purposes, only one of which is lobbying related, the Organization may apportion its costs and report only that percentage which is attributable to its lobbying effort. In doing so, the Client Lobbyist must make an objectively reasonable apportionment supported by documentation which will satisfy the Code’s record keeping and random audit requirements. Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-96a(a) and (b).

By order of the Commission,

Stanley Burdick

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