Frequently Asked Questions
Q & A for Lobbyists
1. May a lobbyist request an Advisory Opinion?
Yes. A lobbyist may request an Advisory Opinion regarding his/her own conduct. To determine whether the question has already been addressed in an Advisory Opinion, click here to view prior Opinions.
2. Do lobbyists who are employed by or represent non-profit organizations need to pay the full lobbyist registration fee?
Yes, there are no exemptions for non-profit organizations.
3. How does a lobbyist add or delete an employer?
A lobbyist desiring to add or delete an employer or change addresses must notify the Ethics Commission in writing within one week of the change. To add an employer, the lobbyist must complete an additional Lobbyist Notice of Representation form to add a new employer and pay an additional fee of $100.00 for each additional employer.
To delete an employer, the lobbyist must complete a West Virginia Lobbyist Termination Notice. The lobbyist will check the box “I am terminating only the employer(s) listed in #2 below” and complete the rest of the form.
The forms may be hand delivered, emailed or sent USPS.
4. How does a lobbyist terminate his/her lobbyist registration?
All lobbyists who wish to stop lobbying altogether must complete a Lobbyist Termination Notice. Otherwise the lobbyist will remain on the active lobbyist list and be responsible for filing Lobbyist Activity Reports. To access the form, go to Lobbyist Lists and Blank Forms on this website.
5. Are lobbyist identification badges provided to all lobbyists?
No. The Commission no longer supplies a photo identification badge but supplies a card with the lobbyist’s name, date of registration and lobbyist ID number. The card is mailed to the lobbyist after registration is complete.
6. Will e-mail addresses of lobbyists be available to the public?
7. How do I get a new Lobbyist Directory?
The Commission will mail new Lobbyist Directories to all registered lobbyists each January or February to the mailing address listed on their registration forms.
8. How often may a lobbyist be audited?
Lobbyists may be audited only once during each 24-month period. Lobbyists’ names to be audited are chosen randomly by a CPA contracted by the Ethics Commission.
9. How long must lobbyists keep activity and spending records?
Records must be kept for two years from the filing of a spending/activity report to which the records relate.
10. How often will lobbyist training sessions be held? Are all lobbyists required to undergo training?
Training sessions for lobbyists and prospective lobbyists are held each January and on another date during each calendar year (usually in October). All lobbyists, regardless of how long they have lobbied, must complete one training course during each two-year lobbyist registration cycle.
11. Are there restrictions regarding lobbyists giving gifts to legislators?
The Ethics Act prohibits lobbyists from giving a gift to a government officer or employee “in excess of or in violation of any limitations on gifts set forth in [the Act] . . . ” If the public servant may not accept a gift, then a lobbyist violates the law by giving it. See the GIFTS section on this website for more information.
12. Does the Ethics Commission provide blank Lobbyist Activity Report forms before they are due?
Blank forms will be sent via email to all lobbyists at least two weeks before the three reporting due dates each year (January 15, May 15 and September 15). To download forms from this website, go to Forms, Booklets and Guidelines on this website.
13. What happens if a registered lobbyist does not file a Lobbyist Activity Report?
Lobbyists who fail to file each Report by the deadline will receive a reminder notice. If a lobbyist still fails to file, he/she will receive a suspension notice. Until a complete Report is filed, the lobbyist will be assessed a late fee of $10.00 per day up to a maximum of $250.00. A lobbyist may not lobby until the missing report is filed and the fine is paid. The Ethics Commission send a list to the clerks of the Senate and House of all lobbyists suspended for failure to file a report, and suspended lobbyists' names are listed on the Commission’s website and provided to the press.
14. Are lobbyists responsible for filing Lobbyist Activity Reports by each deadline even if they do not receive a blank form from the Commission?
Yes. Lobbyists are personally responsible for filing reports on time and keeping their email and U.S. Mail addresses on file with the Ethics Commission up to date. All lobbyist forms, including Lobbyist Activity Reports for each year, are on this website. Reports are due on January 15, May 15 and September 15 of each year.
15. Does the Ethics Commission ever waive or reduce fees for late filing of Lobbyist Activity Reports?
Yes. Upon written request, the Commission, in its discretion, may waive or reduce late fees based upon a showing of extenuating circumstances including, but not limited to, a death in the immediate family, severe illness, and other compelling circumstances which may constitute just cause.
16. Are lobbyists required to report political contributions or contributions made to a PAC?
Political contributions made to state candidates who are incumbents and to candidates who have won the general election for state office must be reported. A lobbyist’s personal political contributions (those for which he/she is not reimbursed by an employer) also must be reported. Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions need not be reported on the lobbyist's reports. .
17. Is a dinner I am planning for legislators from my part of the state considered “group entertainment”? How should it be reported? Do the names of all attendees need to be listed?
This is not considered “group entertainment” as defined in the Act even though the lobbyist will be entertaining a group of people. The expenses for this occurrence must be reported on Schedule A to the Lobbyist Activity Report as a “Meals & Beverages” expenditure. The names of all legislators who attend the function must be listed.
18. If a lobbyist took a legislator out to lunch and spent $20.00 on the total bill for himself and the legislator, how much should be reported?
The lobbyist must report only the amount spent on the legislator (plus the appropriate portion of the tip). The name of the legislator must be listed on Schedule A to the Lobbyist Activity Report.
19. If a lobbyist takes three legislators to lunch and is unsure of exactly how much of the bill is attributable to each legislator, how is this reported?
The lobbyist needs to calculate the total amount spent on the legislators and divide that amount by three. The lobbyist would then list each legislator and the amount spent on all three legislators on Schedule A to the Lobbyist Activity Report.
20. If a lobbyist takes a legislator, her spouse and her close friend to dinner, how is this reported?
On Schedule A to the Lobbyist Activity Report, he would list this as "Legislator X, spouse and guest." The legislator must be identified by name, but her spouse and guest need not be.
21. Must tips be reported?
Yes. Tips are considered part of any entertainment or food and beverage expense.
22. May a lobbyist take a legislator golfing during a conference which both are attending?
Yes, but only if the amount of the green fees, cart rental and other expenses is less than $25.00. The same rule applies to sporting events. A public official may accept a ticket in excess of $25.00 to a sporting event only when he has a ceremonial duty. (For example, crowning the homecoming queen at a football game is considered a ceremonial duty.) This exception only applies in limited circumstances. Lobbyist should call the Ethics Commission for guidance before offering free tickets to a public servant for performing a ceremonial duty.
23. May lobbyists file amended Lobbyist Activity Reports if they forget to report something?
Yes. Amended reports may be filed within a reasonable time of the discovery of an omission. There are no late fees associated with amended forms.
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