Ask the Experts – Grassroots Lobbying - State and Federal Communications

July 3, 2012  •  

Ask the Experts – Grassroots Lobbying

James Warner, Esq.

Q. I developed support for an issue by asking the public to contact and influence their legislator. Should I be concerned with lobbyist disclosure requirements?

A. You are engaging in grassroots lobbying. Grassroots lobbying is communications by a representative of an entity to the general public encouraging correspondence to an official’s office in support of, or opposition to, an official action. You must determine how grassroots lobbying is treated in your jurisdiction.

Engaging in grassroots activities may not meet the definition of lobbying. In Utah, you must communicate directly with an official to be engaged in lobbying and have any registration or reporting requirements.  Next, grassroots lobbying may only trigger disclosure of related expenses. Your grassroots lobbying expenses are disclosed in California if your employer is already registered. Finally, grassroots lobbying may require registration and reporting. Arkansas law expressly includes grassroots communications in the definition of lobbying and requires disclosure of the related expenditures.

Do not assume that if you do not contact a state official directly, you are not engaging in lobbying. Confirm what activities constitute lobbying before taking action.

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