December 8, 2022 •
Q: I heard New York City requires registration and reporting for grassroots lobbying? Who is required to register and how do I comply with all the reporting requirements? A: Yes, if an individual’s compensation or expenditures for grassroots lobbying exceeds […]
Q: I heard New York City requires registration and reporting for grassroots lobbying? Who is required to register and how do I comply with all the reporting requirements?
A: Yes, if an individual’s compensation or expenditures for grassroots lobbying exceeds $5,000 in the aggregate during a calendar year. Lobbying is considered any attempt to influence city officials, therefore all grassroots campaigns would be considered lobbying. The city law reflects the existing state law requiring registration and reporting for state lobbyists.
Once a grassroots campaign reaches the $5,000 lobbying threshold, bi-monthly periodic reports, an annual report, and fundraising and political consulting reports must be filed. Fundraising and political consulting reports are filed on the same bi-monthly schedule as the periodic reports.
For the bi-monthly periodic reports and the annual report, make sure you keep track of compensation, expenses, subjects lobbied, and names of the person and agencies lobbied. For the fundraising and political consulting reports, you will need to track compensation paid for fundraising and/or political consulting activities, a list of all persons or entities contracted for the purpose of providing fundraising and/or political consulting services, and the total dollar amount raised for each candidate for which such activities were performed.
Don’t forget when it comes to websites, a social media communication constitutes a grassroots lobbying communication when:
- References otherwise implicate an action covered by the term lobbying or lobbying activities;
- Takes a clear position on the action question; and
- Includes a call to action (i.e., solicits or exhorts the public, or a segment of the public, to contact a public official).
When grassroots lobbying through a social media communication is undertaken by an organization, through the organization’s social media account, this activity is reportable lobbying activity by the organization. When grassroots lobbying through a social media communication is undertaken by an individual, through their personal social media account, this activity is not reportable lobbying activity unless such individual is specifically retained by a client for such social media activity. Any expenses incurred to create, promote, place, or otherwise highlight an individual’s personal social media activity are reportable by the party incurring the expenses. A consultant’s activity on a grassroots campaign may be considered reportable lobbying if the consultant controlled the delivery and had input into the content of the message.
February 3, 2022 •
I heard the city of Seattle requires reporting and registration for grassroots lobbying? Who is required to register and how do I comply with all reporting requirements? Yes, any person who spends $1,500 or more within three months or $750 […]
I heard the city of Seattle requires reporting and registration for grassroots lobbying? Who is required to register and how do I comply with all reporting requirements?
Yes, any person who spends $1,500 or more within three months or $750 or more within one month to present a program to the public primarily to influence legislation is considered a grassroots lobbying campaign sponsor and must register within 30 days after becoming an indirect lobbyist. The city law is modeled on existing state law requiring similar registration and reporting requirements for state lobbyists.
Every sponsor required to register must also file monthly reports by the 10th day of the month for activity during the preceding month. The report must update the information contained in the registration statement and must report any contributions and expenditures made during the previous month. When the campaign has been terminated, the sponsor must file a notice of termination with the final monthly report.
Registration statements and reports must include the following: (1) information about the sponsor: including name, address, business or occupation, and if the sponsor is not an individual, the names, addresses, and titles of the controlling sponsors; (2) information about the campaign organizers, managers, and anyone hired to assist the campaign: including name, address, business or occupation, and terms of compensation; (3) information about contributors: including the name, address, and the aggregate amount of each person contributing $25 or more; (4) purpose of the campaign: including specific legislation, rates, standards or proposals that are the subject matter of the campaign; and (5) the total expenditures made or incurred to date segregated by category.
While the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) is working on an updated lobbying reporting application that will allow for online reporting of indirect aka grassroots lobbying sponsorships, it is not yet complete. Registrations and reports may be accomplished with the same form template found on our website and can be emailed back to the commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 16, 2020 •
The Maine Ethics Commission has drafted a proposal to mandate lobbying reports from any group spending over $2,000 in a month on grassroots activism, including television or digital advertising, aimed at pending legislation. The current threshold to trigger a report […]
The Maine Ethics Commission has drafted a proposal to mandate lobbying reports from any group spending over $2,000 in a month on grassroots activism, including television or digital advertising, aimed at pending legislation.
The current threshold to trigger a report is $15,000, and even then only if the group first employs a traditional lobbyist.
The commission’s proposal is partly a response to the environmental organization Stop the Corridor, which ran advertisements last year opposing a proposed transmission line while lawmakers were considering bills pertaining to the project.
Ethics Commission proposals go to the state Legislature, which decides if it will craft them into legislation.
June 14, 2018 •
On June 11, several significant amendments to Alberta’s provincial lobbying law took effect when the Lobbyists Amendment Act, 2018, came into force by Royal Assent. The most substantial change in the existing Lobbyist Act is the reduction of an organizational […]
On June 11, several significant amendments to Alberta’s provincial lobbying law took effect when the Lobbyists Amendment Act, 2018, came into force by Royal Assent. The most substantial change in the existing Lobbyist Act is the reduction of an organizational lobbyist’s time threshold from 100 hours annually to 50 hours annually.
For the purposes of determining whether lobbying amounts to 50 hours annually, time spent lobbying includes time spent preparing for communication and communicating with a public office holder. Contingency lobbying is now prohibited under the Act.
Another change to the law amends the definition of lobbying to statutorily include grassroots communication as a form of regulated lobbying requiring registration. Grassroots communication does not include communication between an organization and its members, officers or employees or between a person or partnership and its shareholders, partners, officers or employees.
A lobbyist gift ban has been enacted and reads as follows, “Lobbyists are prohibited from giving or promising any gift, favor or other benefit to the public office holder being, or intended to be, lobbied that the public office holder is prohibited from accepting or that, if given, would place the public office holder in a conflict of interest.”
An additional exemption to the requirement of registering as a lobbyist was added for individuals who are recognized as elders by their aboriginal community.
January 27, 2016 •
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics has released an Advisory Opinion regarding what constitutes lobbying activity when it comes to political consultants and grassroots communications. Advisory Opinion 16-01 requires public relations consultants to register their efforts to influence government through […]
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics has released an Advisory Opinion regarding what constitutes lobbying activity when it comes to political consultants and grassroots communications. Advisory Opinion 16-01 requires public relations consultants to register their efforts to influence government through public campaigns, which includes any contact with editorial boards aimed at publishing communications involving a political issue.
The Advisory Opinion is meant to encompass grassroots communications, an action the public relations community is calling an unconstitutional restraint on free speech. With the Opinion taking effect, grassroots communication is considered lobbying if it references, suggests, or otherwise implicates activity covered by the Lobbying act; takes a clear position on the issue in question; or is an attempt to influence a public official through a call to action. If a consultant had control over the delivery of the message and had input into its content, registration and reporting will now be required.
February 10, 2015 •
On February 2, 2015, the commissioners of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) issued a report to the governor and the Legislature outlining requested changes to existing ethics and lobbying laws. Among their recommendations are mandatory electronic filing for […]
On February 2, 2015, the commissioners of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) issued a report to the governor and the Legislature outlining requested changes to existing ethics and lobbying laws. Among their recommendations are mandatory electronic filing for lobbyists and lobbyist employers, disclosure of political consulting or fundraising activities undertaken by lobbyists, assessment of financial penalties for non-compliance with audits, and barring individuals or entities from acting as lobbyists if they have repeat violations of the Lobbying Act.
The report also notes the need for a review of the Lobbying Act to ensure all forms of government advocacy, including grassroots lobbying and strategic consulting, are being captured for reporting purposes.
According to the Times Union, Gov. Cuomo said he is willing to delay budget negotiations in exchange for an ethics reform package from the Legislature, incorporating the recommendations of the JCOPE.
The entire report is available here.
October 29, 2013 •
Grassroots Activities May be Reportable as Lobbying Expenses
The Hawaii State Ethics Commission issued an ethics advisory in response to inquiries received regarding grassroots lobbying activity during the Legislature’s second special session. The Legislature convened on October 28 to discuss same-sex marriage, and many organizations involved in supporting or opposing the bill may be required to report activities to the commission under Hawaii lobbying law.
Grassroots lobbying activities such as preparing or distributing flyers and other mailers encouraging members of the public to contact their legislators in support of or in opposition to the bill; producing or paying for broadcast, print, or internet media announcements advocating for or against the issue; and organizing sign-waving or rallies to demonstrate support for or against same-sex marriage may all constitute reportable lobbying expenses under Hawaii law.
February 28, 2013 •
State and Federal Communications starts Government Relations Compliance Group
There are a number of terrific LinkedIn groups devoted to government relations professionals and to the industry in general. What we found was that there was no group specifically for the discussion of compliance.
We are excited to announce that we are meeting that need by forming the Government Relations Compliance group.
Government relations professionals can discover what colleagues are saying about complying with government rules and regulations for lobbying, grassroots lobbying, political contributions, and procurement.
Join the conversation!
November 16, 2012 •
Two groups argue that the laws are unconstitutional
An old lawsuit has been resurrected that could leave Washington’s public disclosure law involving grassroots lobbying in jeopardy. Two groups, Conservative Enthusiasts and Many Cultures, One Message, sued the Washington Public Disclosure Commission in 2010 claiming their free speech rights were violated by the law requiring grassroots campaigns to register and report with the state.
The case was dismissed by a magistrate for lack of standing. However, last week, a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court heard the appeal on the dismissal and will soon be making a decision on the law in question.
At issue in the case will be whether the law is unconstitutionally vague. The law defines lobbying, among other things, as attempting to influence the passage of legislation. Included in the definition of legislation is “any other matter that may be the subject of action” by the legislature. It is this language that is the nature of the lawsuit. The two groups claim that the language is overly vague and includes “an endless possibility of matters.”
Now, it is up to the appellate court to decide whether the case will go back to the trial court for a hearing on the merits and whether the dismissal will be upheld.
February 2, 2011 •
State and Federal Communications attends the Public Affairs Council conference in Key West.
Five members of the staff of State and Federal Communications attended the Public Affairs Council National Grassroots Conference in beautiful Key West, Florida last week. It was a great chance to learn more about what is happening in grassroots advocacy, to see old friends, and to make some new ones!
One of the best takeaways from the conference, I think, was the way it presented social media as a tool for grassroots advocacy. The offerings at the conference were not an introduction to social media, nor were they making an effort to convince everyone of the value and importance of social media’s arrival. The sessions this year provided insight into best practices of social media. I witnessed much more dialogue in the sessions as more people are aware of it and using it.
There were other high points as well. We really enjoyed hearing the 2010 Grassroots Innovation Awards Winners – Portland General Electric, the American Heart Association, and American Express – talk about the exciting things they are doing in public relations.
Another excellent moment was listening to former U.S. Representative Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.), who spoke at the Friday morning general session. His talk was on the 2010 elections, how they will affect business and public policy, as well as what to look for in the upcoming legislative session.
The conference gave us so much more than we can blog about. We had a great time. We cannot wait until next year!
Thank you very much to the Public Affairs Council for hosting this marvelous conference.
Photo of Elizabeth Bartz welcoming everyone at the Registration/Networking breakfast.
August 23, 2010 •
It is well known that direct lobbying efforts are regulated in some manner in all fifty states. A growing trend among the states is to not only require registration and reporting for direct lobbying, but also more indirect efforts.
These types of indirect efforts, also known as “grassroots lobbying,” encompass a wide variety of activities. Sanctions, penalties, and fines arise when organizations fail to realize that their efforts to persuade the general population on various issues may possibly be considered lobbying.
The good news is that many states are explicit as to whether they consider grassroots efforts lobbying. States like Arizona and Ohio define lobbying as direct communication with legislators, thereby excluding grassroots. States that do regulate grassroots activity, for example, Mississippi and New Hampshire, use language such as soliciting others and indirect communication with legislators to indicate that grassroots efforts require registration.
Reporting grassroots activity is often more complicated than reporting direct lobbying expenditures. In most states, reporting direct lobbying expenses is straightforward. It is not difficult to determine what is an expenditure spent on an official. Reporting grassroots costs becomes confusing because grassroots lobbying often consists of mass media campaigns, along with websites and e-mails. It is difficult to tell exactly which costs are included in the registration and reporting thresholds. For example, in the case of a website, do you include the salary of the person creating the website, the cost of web access, or the cost of any outsourced work? (more…)
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.