Frequently Asked Questions
Q & A for Lobbyists
1. May a Lobbyist request an advisory opinion; and are there advisory opinions on file that relate to lobbying?
For those questions for which an answer is not readily available, a written request for a formal advisory opinion may be made to the Ethics Commission. Lobbyists can ask for Advisory Opinions regarding their own conduct. Existing opinions relating to Lobbyists can be viewed here PDF format. Lobbyist Advisory Opinions
2. I work for a non-profit organization. Do I have to pay the full registration fee?
Yes, there are no exemptions for paying the normal registration fees simply because you are employed by a non-profit.
3. How do I add or delete an employer if I change jobs?
Within one week of the change, notify the Ethics Commission by letter or e-mail if you delete an employer or change your address. You must complete an additional Lobbyist Notice of Representation form when you add a new employer, and pay an additional fee of $100.00 for each represented employer that you add.
4. How do I end my lobbyist registration and get off the active list?
If you stop lobbying altogether, you must complete a Termination Form; otherwise you will remain on the active lobbyist list and be responsible for filing reports. Call the Ethics Commission and we will mail you the correct form. It is also on the Commission’s website.
5. Are lobbyist identification badges provided to all lobbyists?
Yes. In response to a request from Legislative staff, the Commission provides lobbyist ID badges to all registered lobbyists. Badges are mailed or given to all lobbyists upon completion of their registration. At some point, the Legislature may mandate the use of these ID badges. Until then, use of the ID badges will be a voluntary accommodation of Legislative security concerns.
6. Will e-mail addresses of lobbyists be available to the public and Legislators?
Yes. Registration forms have an area to list your e-mail address if you wish to do so. We have had a number of requests to include this information in our Lobbyist Directory. If you do not wish to have your e-mail address made public, do not list it on the registration form.
7. How do I get a new Lobbyist Directory?
All registered lobbyists will receive a new directory each February. The directories are mailed to the mailing address you provide on your registration form. If you need to make other arrangements to receive the directory, please call us. You are responsible for advising us of any changes in your mailing address.
8. How often may a lobbyist be audited?
According to current legislation, no lobbyist will be subject to a random audit more than once in any 24-month period. Audits are done by a professional CPA contracted by the Ethics Commission.
9. How long must I keep my records?
For two years from the filing of a statement to which the items relate.
10. How often will lobbyist training sessions be held? Since I’ve been a lobbyist for 10 years, do I still have to attend?
Training sessions for lobbyists and prospective lobbyists will be held at least twice per year. At least one session will be held during the month of January. To maintain your registration, you must complete one training course per registration cycle regardless of how long you’ve been a lobbyist. Training dates and information are posted on this website.
11. What about gifts to legislators; may I give any and if so are there any restrictions?
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, a lobbyist violates the law by giving it. See section on GIFTS.
12. Will I automatically receive reporting forms before they are due?
Yes, provided you maintain a CURRENT address with our office. Reports are mailed to all lobbyists at least two weeks before the three due dates each year which are January 15, May 15 and September 15. They may also be downloaded from this website.
13. What happens if I do not file a report?
If you do not file a report, you will receive a reminder notice. If you still fail to file, you will receive a suspension notice . Until the proper report is filed, you are assessed a late fee of $10.00 per day up to a maximum of $250.00. You are not permitted to lobby until the missing report is filed and your fine is paid. The clerks of the Senate and House receive lists of all lobbyists suspended for failure to file a report. Suspended lobbyists are also listed on the Commission’s website.
14. I didn’t get the last report because it was mailed to a previous employer and they did not forward it to me. Am I responsible for filing the report on time even if I did not get it?
Yes. Lobbyists are personally responsible for filing reports on time and keeping their mailing addresses up to date. All lobbyist forms including reporting forms are on this website. Reports have exactly the same due date each year—January 15, May 15, and September 15.
15. If my reports are late for a very good reason or because of a situation over which I have no control, are there any provisions for reducing or waiving the assessed fine?
Yes. All situations of this nature are handled on a case-by-case basis by decision of the Ethics Commission at one of its regular meetings. Any such request must be presented to the Commission in writing.
16. Do I report political contributions? Do I report any contributions I make to a PAC? If these contributions are personal and not from my company, should I report them?
Political contributions to incumbent candidates and to candidates who have won the general election for state office are reportable. Contributions are reportable for candidates for state office only. A lobbyist’s personal political contributions (those for which he or she is not reimbursed by an employer) are reportable. Political Action Committee (PAC) contributions are not reported on the lobbyist reports.
17. I'm planning a dinner and will invite only legislators from my part of the state. Is this considered group entertainment? How should it be reported? Do I need to list the names of everyone who attends?
This is not considered a “group” function as defined in the Act even though you will be entertaining a group of people. The expenses for this occurrence are reportable on Schedule A. It is considered a “meals & beverages” expenditure. The names of all legislators who attend the function must be listed.
18. I took a legislator out to lunch and spent $20.00 on the total bill for the two of us. How much do I report, $10.00 or $20.00?
Report only the amount spent on the legislator (plus the appropriate portion of the gratuity). Here you would report $10.00 plus tip, assuming the costs of the two meals are the same. The name of the legislator does have to be listed and reported on Schedule A.
19. I took three legislators to lunch. I am unsure exactly how much of the bill is attributable to each legislator. How do I report?
You do not need to make an exact calculation of who consumed what during the meal. You merely need to calculate the total amount expended on the legislators, and divide the bill by three. You will then list each legislator on your Schedule A along with the allocated amount of the bill.
20. I took a legislator, her spouse and her close friend to dinner. How do I report?
You would list this expenditure as ”Legislator X, spouse, and guest.”
Use Schedule A. You are required to identify the legislator by name, and you may list the name of the spouse or guest, but it is not required.
21. Do I include the cost of gratuity (for example a tip to a waiter) when reporting?
Yes. Tips are considered an integral part of any entertainment or food and beverage expense.
22. I am at an out of state conference. Legislators are also attending the conference. May I take them golfing?
Only if the amount of the green fees, cart rental and other attendant expenses are less then $25.00. This same rule applies for sporting events. A public official may only accept a ticket in excess of $25.00 to a sporting event when he or she 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 circumstance. Call the Commission for guidance before you offer free tickets to a public servant for performing a ceremonial duty.
23. What if I forget to report something?
File an amended report within a reasonable time of the discovery of your omission. There are no late fees associated with amended forms.
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