Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 2003-6

Advisory Opinion No. 2003-6
Advisory Opinion No. 2003-6

Extent Of Reporting Required When Actions Are Taken
Outside Normal Agency Process

The State Ethics Commission has been asked how the reporting requirements of the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91 et seq., apply to the following hypothetical set of facts: A business entity often responds to requests for contract proposals put out by a state agency. Because the preparation of submissions filed pursuant to a request for proposals is specifically exempted from the definition of administrative lobbying, the business entity has not had to register as a lobbyist with the State Ethics Commission. See Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies 1-92-42a(e). In the course of taking a number of the usual steps to respond to one such request for proposal, however, the entity takes actions outside the normal process of the agency in an effort to secure the contract. The entity had spent $2500 in printing and personnel costs before taking the actions outside the normal process. This additional activity costs the entity $500 in personnel costs. The two issues raised under the Code of Ethics for Lobbyists are (1) what costs are included in determining whether the entity has to register as a lobbyist and (2) once the entity has registered, what costs must be reported on its required lobbyist financial reports?

The State Ethics Commission has previously held that actions taken outside of a state agency’s rules and procedures in an attempt to influence that agency’s legal or contractual determinations constitute administrative lobbying and may require registration as a lobbyist if the $2000 annual registration threshold is met. See State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 97-5, Application Of The Lobbyist Code’s Registration Requirements To Actions Taken Outside Of An Agency’s Rules And Procedures, 58 Conn. Law J. No. 40, p 9D (4/1/97). By definition, the term "Lobbyist" includes an entity that "in lobbying and in furtherance of lobbying" makes expenditures of two thousand dollars or more in a calendar year. See Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-91(l).

The Commission has a long-standing policy regarding "in furtherance of lobbying" activity. Under that policy, if an entity spends money only to monitor legislation, then that expenditure is "in furtherance of lobbying," not direct lobbying, and the entity does not have to register. If, subsequently, the entity begins to contact legislators and conduct some direct lobbying, the entity must capture its previous activity in order to determine whether the registration threshold has been met, and then must report the combined expenditure on its lobbyist financial report. See Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies 1-92-49.

The situation described in the previous paragraph is somewhat different than the present hypothetical situation. Here, the $2500 spent in following the normal process to respond to the request for proposal is exempted by regulation from consideration as a lobbying expense. Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies 1-92-42a(e)(1). Therefore, under the specific facts described, this entity would not have to register as a client lobbyist, because it has spent only $500 towards its lobbying effort. The entity would have to register if, in the course of taking actions outside the normal process, it expends a total of $2000 or more on lobbying activities and activities in furtherance of lobbying.

By order of the Commission,

Rosemary Giuliano


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