Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 2001-25

Advisory Opinion No. 2001-25
Advisory Opinion No. 2001-25

Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Registration Requirements To
Direct Mail Solicitation And Fundraising

The Commission has been asked whether the following conduct constitutes "Lobbying" as that term is defined in 1-91(k) of The Code Of Ethics For Lobbyists.

An organization entitled the Connecticut Defense of Marriage Committee (the Committee) has distributed a mailing soliciting signatures for a petition and monetary donations to oppose legislation giving "…special privileges, perhaps including marriage, to homosexuals." The petition urges one’s state legislator to resist efforts to sponsor "…legislation of any kind listing marriage-like benefits to homosexuals"; and requests that the signator list his or her representative’s name.

Pursuant to 1-91(k), "Lobbying" includes "communicating directly or soliciting others to communicate with any official…in the legislative…branch of government…for the purpose of influencing any legislative…action." "Legislative action" includes the "introduction, sponsorship, consideration, debate, amendment, passage, defeat" or "approval" of "any bill…in either house of the legislature, or any matter which is within the official jurisdiction or cognizance of the legislature." Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91(j).

Applying these terms to the question under consideration, the written communication at issue is clearly a solicitation of others to communicate with state legislators for the purpose of influencing legislative action. Consequently, if the Committee has spent or has incurred an obligation to spend $2,000 or more in this calendar year for lobbying it must register and file financial disclosure reports with the State Ethics Commission. See, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-94(2), 1-95(a) and 1-96(a) and (e).

With regard to the Committee’s fundraising efforts (i.e., an attempt to raise $100,000 for a direct mail campaign), the Lobbyist Code does not, in general, extend to such activities. If, however, any person donates $2,000 or more in a calendar year to the Committee, and if the Committee is found to be an organization "…formed primarily for the purpose of lobbying…", it must disclose the name and address of each such person when it registers. See, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-95(a)(3).

By order of the Commission,

Rosemary Giuliano,

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:03:54 AM