Ask the Experts - Disclosure Requirements for Permissible Expenditures - State and Federal Communications

September 9, 2014  •  

Ask the Experts – Disclosure Requirements for Permissible Expenditures

James WarnerQ. I provided a state legislator with a permissible gift.  I will be sure to include it on my next report.  Is there anything else I need to know regarding proper disclosure of this expenditure.

A. There are sometimes additional disclosure requirements related to an expenditure on a covered state official or employee.  You should be sure to consider two possibilities: a notification to the official or a supplemental report in addition to your routine lobbying report.

A number of states have a notification requirement if you are going to list the name of a covered public official on your lobbying report.  For example, Illinois actually requires two notifications.  You must provide the official with a contemporaneous notification at the time of the expenditure, and a post- notification is required within 30 days after the report has been filed.  In other jurisdictions, the notification is related to whether you must itemize the expenditure or list the official’s name on your report.  In Arkansas, you must list the state official’s name if payment for food (including beverages), lodging, or travel is in excess of $40.  Once the official is named on your report, you must provide him or her with a notification of this at least seven working days prior to the filing of your report.  Pennsylvania imposes a yearly aggregate threshold on the listing of an official on the principal’s lobbying report and corresponding required notification.  This threshold is $250 per calendar year for gifts and $650 per calendar year for transportation, lodging, and/or hospitality (which includes food and beverage).  Please keep in mind that notifications are not filed with the state, but sent to the official named on your report.

Some jurisdictions require an additional report to be filed with the state when making certain permissible expenditures.  For example, if you invite all members of a Maryland legislative unit to a meal or reception, you must extend a written invitation to all members of the legislative unit and register the meal or reception with the Maryland Department of Legislative Services at least five days before the date of the meal or reception.  You must then report the details of the meal or reception to the Maryland Ethics Commission within 14 days after the date of the meal or reception.  In Indiana, you must file a report within 15 days if you make a gift or gifts to a legislative person if the value of the gift or gifts equals $50 or more in one day or together totals more than $250 in a reporting year.

Proper disclosure of a permissible expenditure can include additional steps.  Be sure to check with your jurisdiction’s ethics agency to ensure all disclosure requirements are met.


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