Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 2003-4

Advisory Opinion No. 2003-4
Advisory Opinion No. 2003-4

Application Of The Term "In Furtherance of Lobbying" To Corporate
Contributions To State Governmental Associations

The State Ethics Commission has been presented with the following hypothetical fact pattern: a corporation, registered in Connecticut as a client lobbyist, makes donations of $100,000 each to the Republican Governors’ Association (RGA) and Democratic Governors’ Association (DGA). During the same calendar year, the corporation also donates $50,000 to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The Commission has been asked whether and how the reporting requirements of The Code Of Ethics For Lobbyists apply to these donations.

Pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-96(e), "Each client lobbyist registrant financial report…shall state…expenditures in furtherance of lobbying." The Commission does not dispute that the donations in question can serve multiple purposes; e.g., enabling the corporation’s personnel to attend conferences and receive publications which provide useful information regarding various business issues. Nonetheless, the Commission believes it is essentially unarguable that the principal purposes for contributions of this type and magnitude are to foster good will and to provide access for the corporation to state executive and legislative decision makers. Given these principal purposes, the donations fall squarely within the meaning of the term "in furtherance of lobbying" as that language has been consistently interpreted by the Commission. See, e.g. State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 93-14, 53 Conn. L.J. No. 4, p. 3E (7/27/93): wherein the Commission held that the term "in furtherance of lobbying" included "activities and expenditures which foster good will between lobbyists and public officials…"

As a consequence of this analysis, the Commission holds that donations to the RGA, DGA and NCSL by a client lobbyist registered in Connecticut should be reported pursuant to 1-96(e). In order to avoid over reporting, however, the corporation should prorate its disclosure by dividing its overall contributions by the number of states in which it is registered to lobby.

By order of the Commission,

Rosemary Giuliano

Content Last Modified on 9/7/2005 8:04:47 AM