February 19, 2014 •
Ask the Experts – State Ban on Personal Political Contributions by Registered Lobbyists
Q. I am a registered lobbyist and on occasion I use my personal funds to make political contributions, as does my spouse. Are there states that prohibit such activity?
A. A lobbyist, simply by virtue of his or her profession, may be prohibited from making personal political contributions.
There are nine states that either prohibit or limit a registered lobbyist’s ability to contribute to state candidates. In most instances, a lobbyist’s ability to contribute to political parties and ballot measure committees remains intact.
Kentucky, North Carolina, and Tennessee impose an outright ban on lobbyists’ contributions. In Connecticut and Massachusetts, there isn’t an outright ban, but instead a monetary limit of $100 and $200, respectively. In Connecticut, the limitation extends to family members of lobbyists.
Perhaps the state most mired in “red tape” is Alaska. A lobbyist may not contribute to a candidate for office in a district outside the lobbyist’s own voting district. This prohibition continues for one year after a lobbyist’s registration or renewed registration date. A lobbyist who contributes to a legislative candidate must file a Lobbyist Report of Contributions to Legislative Candidates (Form 15-5A) within 30 days after making the contribution.
In some states, lobbyists may not contribute to state candidates or officeholders if registered to lobby the candidate’s or officeholder’s agency. Such is the case in California and South Carolina.
Finally, as a registered lobbyist you should be aware there are numerous states that impose a lobbyist ban during the legislative session. Be sure to review the relevant statutes, regulations, and guidelines.
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