May 5, 2011 •
Ask the Experts – Rules When Accompanying a Registered Lobbyist
Q: I am a registered lobbyist. Can a company executive and/or expert accompany me to meetings with public officials without needing to register?
A: In most instances, individuals are not “insulated” from registration by engaging in lobbying activities in the presence of a registered lobbyist. California is an example of an exception to this rule. In California, an individual does not engage in direct communication when he meets or speaks with a qualifying official in the company of a registered lobbyist retained by the individual’s employer, or by a bona fide trade association or membership organization of which the individual’s employer is a member.
The answer will to depend on the jurisdiction’s registration thresholds. Often times, executives and experts will not have to register because their involvement will not meet the compensation, time, or expenditure threshold in the given jurisdiction. For example, in Connecticut, the expert would have to receive $2,000 in compensation in a calendar year before having to register. A one-time meeting with public officials would probably not exceed this threshold. Likewise, in Massachusetts, there is a statutory presumption that an individual is not a lobbyist if he spends 25 hours or less and receives less than $2,500 for lobbying efforts during any semi-annual reporting period.
The context and content of the conversation are also important in determining whether registration is required. If the executive and/or expert are merely providing testimony at a public hearing, most often this will not be considered lobbying and he will not be required to register. In some cases, as in Arizona, there are exceptions for individuals providing technical information to public officials.
It is always important to remember the “title” of the person is not relevant in determining whether he or she needs to register as a lobbyist in any given jurisdiction.
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