Ethics: Advisory Opinion No. 2003-7

Advisory Opinion No. 2003-7
Advisory Opinion No. 2003-7

Application Of Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-101bb To The Hiring Of A Lobbyist To Represent
 A State Agency At The Federal Level

The State Ethics Commission has been asked whether Section 8 of Public Act 02-46 would prohibit an Executive Branch or Quasi-Public Agency from retaining a lobbyist to represent the agency's interests in a jurisdiction other than the State of Connecticut, e.g., at the federal level in Washington, D.C.

Public Act 02-46, Section 8, effective January 1, 2003, reads as follows:

No quasi-public agency, as defined in section 1-120 of the general statutes, as amended, or state agency may retain a lobbyist, as defined in section 1-91 of the general statutes. The provisions of this section and chapter 10 of the general statutes shall not be construed to prohibit a director, officer or employee of a quasi-public agency or state agency from lobbying, as defined in section 1-91 of the general statutes, on behalf of the quasi-public agency or state agency.

The provision in question has been codified as 1-101bb in Part III, Chapter 10, Conn. Gen. Stat. Although Chapter 10 contains the State's Codes of Ethics, the Commission, at present, only has specific authority to issue Advisory Opinions regarding Part I, The Code Of Ethics For Public Officials, and Part II, The Code Of Ethics For Lobbyists. See, Conn. Gen. Stat. 1-81(a)(3) and 1-92(5). No such specific authority currently exists with regard to Part III, Miscellaneous Provisions. Therefore, as a preliminary matter, the Commission hereby requests that the General Assembly adopt a technical amendment to Part III rectifying this omission.

In the interim, the Commission is nonetheless able to issue practical guidance regarding the provision in question, since its application turns on an interpretation of the term "Lobbyist" as defined in Section 1-91 of The Code Of Ethics For Lobbyists. That term is specifically limited to "a person who in lobbying and in furtherance of lobbying" makes expenditures or receives compensation of $2000 or more in a calendar year. Id. at (1). "Lobbying" in turn is specifically limited to "…communicating directly or soliciting others to communicate with any official or his staff in the legislative or executive branch of government or in a quasi-public agency for the purpose of influencing any legislative or administrative action." Id. at (k). And finally "Administrative action" and "Legislative action" are clearly limited to actions of the State of Connecticut Id. at (a) and (j).

As a consequence of this unambiguous statutory framework, it is essentially unarguable that 1-101bb is only intended to prohibit State and Quasi-Public Agencies from retaining lobbyists at the state level in Connecticut. Consequently, no provision of The Codes Of Ethics would prohibit such an agency from hiring a lobbyist to represent its interest before the Federal Government.

By order of the Commission,

Rosemary Giuliano,
Chairperson

 



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