May 1, 2012 •
Ask the Experts – How to Report Travel Expenses
Q. Some of the state lobbying reports ask about my travel expenses. What does this include?
A. “Travel expenses” is a phrase used by several states. It can refer to two different types of expenditures.
Some states require the disclosure of personal, reimbursed expenses incurred while lobbying. This would include food and beverage, hotels, cab fare, and travel expenses for a lobbying trip. Iowa, for instance, requires lobbyist employers to disclose all reimbursements made to their lobbyists. So, if a lobbyist lives in Topeka and flies to Des Moines to communicate with a legislator, the airfare is a reportable expense. Note, however, this generally only applies if the primary purpose of the trip is lobbying as defined by the state. A trip during which the lobbying contacts made were incidental to the main purpose of the travel would usually not need reported.
Other states, however, require the reporting of airfare or other travel costs paid by a lobbyist on behalf of a legislator or other public official. In Idaho and Mississippi, for example, a lobbyist or lobbyist employer may pay for a public official to travel to an event or to the company’s facilities, and the cost of the travel must be reported.
In all of these cases, the state reports request “travel expenses.” As you can see, it is very possible for the same words to have different meanings in the eyes of different states. When in doubt, lobbyists and employers can always contact us for guidance.
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