Ask The Experts - Texas Sponsorship Laws - State and Federal Communications

June 13, 2023  •  

Ask The Experts – Texas Sponsorship Laws

Q: My organization wants to sponsor a reception in Texas. State legislators, staff, and family members are likely to be in attendance. As a registered lobbyist, what are my limits and reporting obligations?

As a registered lobbyist, there are several items to keep in mind when sponsoring an event. First, a lobbyist can provide an unlimited amount of food and beverage to an official, employee, immediate family member, or guest when the lobbyist attends the event. If not present at the event, food and beverage expenditures are limited to $100 or less.

Next, when engaging with officials at the event, sponsorship is considered a lobbying expenditure and will need to be disclosed on the appropriate lobbying report. These reports break expenditures down by type (food and beverage, entertainment, transportation, etc.) and by recipient. This may seem straightforward, but if your sponsorship goes to the organizing entity, how do you know how your dollars are being used?

The state provides some guidance here. When reporting expenditures for a reception or banquet type event, the Food and Beverage category includes all items needed to hold the event such as room rental, table settings, and printing costs. Other categories may need to be included depending on the specific event.

Additionally, you will need to know who among the attendees are in a reportable category of persons benefitted. Generally, this is state senators/representatives, state officers, state employees, immediate family members, and guests. If a combination of these groups are in attendance, or a combination of covered and non-covered individuals, the expenditure should be divided appropriately based on the numbers in each category. If all members of the legislature are invited, the entire expenditure is reported under that category. As long as all members are invited, it does not matter how many actually attend.

Finally, keep in mind the detailed reporting threshold. If the per person costs exceed the threshold, currently $132.60, the individuals must be identified and other details disclosed.

For more information, please see the “Reports Required” and “Gift Law” sections of the Lobbying Compliance Laws online  publication for Texas. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.

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