Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 2000-5

Advisory Opinion No. 2000-5
Advisory Opinion No. 2000-5

Application Of The Lobbyist Registration And Reporting Requirements
To Certain Work Performed By Attorney

State Ethics Commission Attorney Catherine Nasto has asked how the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91 et seq., applies to the following set of facts. A lawyer in private practice specializing in trusts and estates learns of a bill proposed in the Connecticut General Assembly. The proposed legislation could greatly affect the estate planning of many of her clients. This lawyer and other interested lawyers join together to form an association to track the bill and to lobby the legislature regarding its passage. The association registers as a client lobbyist and hires a professional lobbyist. As a further service to her clients, the lawyer makes a number of phone calls to legislators and also sends out a mailing to former clients alerting them to the issue and suggesting that they also contact their legislators. The lawyer is not compensated by any client for this work. The questions which arise under the Ethics Code are: (1) whether the lawyer who performs such work to benefit her clients but is not directly compensated by these clients needs to register as a communicator lobbyist; and (2) whether the association needs to report such time on its lobbyist financial reports.

Under the Code, a lobbyist is a person who in lobbying and in furtherance of lobbying makes or agrees to make expenditures, or receives or agrees to receive compensation, reimbursement, or both, and such compensation, reimbursement or expenditures total two thousand dollars or more in any calendar year. Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91(l). Applying this definition to the specific facts presented, a lawyer who performs such lobbying activity as an uncompensated service to her clients does not need to assign a dollar value to her time in order to determine whether she must register as a communicator lobbyist. Similarly, the value of her time does not need to be reported by the association. The lawyer’s out-of-pocket expenditures for such items as postage and secretarial time should be reported on the association’s lobbyist financial reports, however, with the proper attribution regarding the source of the money if the contribution is $2000 or more. Also, of course, if the lawyer charges a fee which includes lobbying as an element of the work to be performed, then registration would be required if the threshold is met.

By order of the Commission,

Stanley Burdick,

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:03:24 AM