NEW YORK
TEMPORARY STATE COMMISSION
ON REGULATION OF LOBBYING

OPINION NO. 25 (79-9)

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FACTS

A law firm requests the Commission to advise whether or not it is subject to the Regulation of Lobbying Act under the following sets of facts:

A. Members and associates of the firm serve on committees of various bar associations involving development of position papers on proposed or pending legislation, which papers may or may not be transmitted to legislators or the Governor by the association's registered lobbyist. The firm receives no fee for these activities and they are not undertaken on behalf of any client. However, these activities may be carried out at a time when the member or associate received compensation from the firm. The firm assumes these facts would not require it to register and report.

B. The firm analyzes and advises clients on proposed legislation and drafts legislation for the clients. Some clients belong to a trade association and the firm at times is asked to appear or otherwise communicate its opinions on legislation to the association. The association has its own lobbyists who may or may not use the opinions supplied by the firm. The firm does not directly contact legislators or the Governor and assumes, therefore, that it is not required to register and report.

C. In addition to services rendered under "B" above, the firm contacts the Governor's staff directly, on behalf of the client, to urge the veto of a bill. It concludes it must register and report, assuming the $1000 threshold is met, but that fees for previous work on the subject matter need not be reported.

QUESTIONS

1. Do members and associates of the firm who discuss legislation with bar association committee members and who prepare position papers for the committee have to register with and report to the Commission under the Act?

2. If activities involve no communications by the firm or its clients with the Executive or Legislative branches, the views expressed to governmental officials are by lobbyists for the association of which the client is a member, and the views are those of the association (and not necessarily those of the client), is the firm or the client a lobbyist under the Act?

3. If the firm did register and report, must it report fees received with respect to the rendering of advice and communicating with the association on subjects reported?

DISCUSSION

1. Section 12(a)1 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act excepts persons engaged in drafting legislation and advising clients and rendering opinions on proposed legislation where such services are not otherwise connected with legislative or executive action on such legislation. Therefore, under the facts listed in "A", the firm would not be involved in lobbying. The fact that the member or associate of the firm may receive compensation from the firm while working on bar association matters would have to be considered if the activity of the individual otherwise qualified under the Act's definition of lobbying and the $1000 threshold was reached. In such case, the law firm would be the client on whose behalf the firm's member or associate was attempting to influence legislation. However, since, under "A", there was no attempt by the member or associate of the firm to influence legislation, these factors would not apply.

2. Again, Section 12(a)(1) of the Act applies. Analyzing and giving advice on legislation and communicating this advice to others who are not governmental decision-makers does not constitute lobbying, even when such information is used by lobbyists in attempting to influence governmental decision-making.

3. When the firm actually communicates directly with the Governor's staff to attempt to influence a decision on legislation, the firm would come under the provisions of the Act and would be required to register and report if the $1000 threshold was met. In this instance, development of analyses and opinions on the particular legislation which would have been excepted had the firm done no lobbying, now must be considered part of the lobbying activity. The fees for such services would therefore have to be included when determining reportable expenditures under the Act.

OPINION

Drafting legislation and advising clients and rendering opinions on proposed legislation where such professional services are not otherwise connected with legislative or executive action on such legislation are excepted under the Act. Communications with the Governor's office in an attempt to influence the Governor's decision on legislation is lobbying and the firm would be required to register and report if the $1000 threshold was met. Once having engaged in lobbying on a piece of legislation, the firm would be required to incorporate in its reportable expenditures, all activities related to that legislation, including drafting, analyzing, and rendering opinions thereon.


APPROVED BY COMMISSION: APRIL 25, 1979

CONCURRING: CHAIRMAN MARGARET C. ANDRONACO, VICE CHAIRMAN D. CLINTON DOMINICK, FRANCES FOX, GAIL HELLENBRAND, and S. STANLEY KREUTZER.

/S/
________________________________________

MARGARET C. ANDRONACO
Chairman


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