Ask the Experts – Gift Limits While Attending NCSL - State and Federal Communications

August 2, 2013  •  

Ask the Experts – Gift Limits While Attending NCSL

NCSLQ. I will be attending the NCSL conference this summer.  Do regular gift limits on expenditures for public officials apply during this event?

A. The answer will vary depending upon whether you are paying for a private event or sponsoring a conference-affiliated event.  Taking a legislator to dinner, paying for cab fare or other transportation, or giving him or her a ticket to a ballgame are not considered part of the official conference agenda and normal gift limits will apply.  Also, for private events, the answer will depend upon whether you or your company are registered as a lobbyist or lobbyist employer.  In most instances, states have more stringent gift laws applicable to lobbyists and lobbyist principals.

Many states have gift limit exceptions specifically carved out for expenditures at national conferences to which all members of the legislature are invited. Further, State Night events at NCSL are considered part of the conference agenda; therefore, when national conference gift exceptions exist, they will apply.

Although a State Night sponsorship may be permissible, it is important to determine if and when the expenditure must be disclosed.  Know the reporting requirements before the event, because an attendee list may be required. The reporting implications range from simple aggregate disclosure to detailed reporting where the name of every legislator attending must be listed.

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