April 23, 2013 •
Massachusetts Secretary of Commonwealth Clarifies Lobbyist Disclosure Requirement of Direct Business Associations
The Massachusetts Lobbyist Section of Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office has informed lobbyists it will reinterpret a reporting requirement in order to comply with a court order.
Initially, Secretary of State William Galvin’s office had asserted it had the authority to interpret “all direct business associations with public officials” under state law expansively and require lobbyists disclose the names of all officials with whom a lobbyist has communicated. In reaction, a lawsuit had been brought against the Secretary of State’s office by the ACLU, AirStrategies, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Citizens for Juvenile Justice, Common Cause, and the Conservation Law Foundation. A Superior Court Judge ruled against the secretary.
To comply with the court’s order, the secretary will now require disclosure of the names of public officials to whom a lobbyist has made a lobbying communication only if the lobbyist also has a direct business association with the public official. Following the court’s order, the secretary informed lobbyists this means a joint enterprise or transaction of a commercial or financial nature directly by or between the lobbyist and the public official.
The Lobbyist Section has rescinded all correction and rejection notices inconsistent with this interpretation of business association.
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