A request has been made by a law firm concerning the detailed reporting of general office overhead such as rent, heat, electricity, furnishings, and equipment as they relate to non-lobbying employees. In addition the question is posed as to whether the salaries, in detail, of non-lobbying employees, such as staff, clerical, and consultants are required to be reported in three separate categories, or whether they may be reported in the aggregate.
The issue concerning the reporting of general office overhead and detailed disclosure of non-lobbying employees' salaries by those subject to the Regulation of Lobbying Act has been characterized by sharply divergent views within the Commission since the present procedure was formulated. This issue was also dealt with in Section IV of the Guidelines and in Advisory Opinions 12, 29, and 31. The procedure to date requires registered lobbyists, their clients, and public corporations to report, in detail, such items as telephone, lighting, rent, and stenographic salaries of non-lobbying employees and to apportion these figures as they relate to the lobbying services rendered. Where the proportionate amount could not be accurately ascertained, a "reasonable estimate" was permitted.
1) Should general office overhead such as rent, heat, electricity, maintenance, supplies, furnishings, equipment, or a "reasonable estimate" thereof, be required to be reported in detail as a lobbying expense?
2) Should the salaries of non-lobbying employees be required to be reported in detail in three separate categories?1. Staff
This Commission is unanimously of the opinion that the present procedure requiring detailed reporting of overhead items, as indicated, should be no longer required.
With respect to Item 1) above, we conclude that the inclusion of general office overhead of non-lobbying employees is superfluous, and provides no meaningful information to the public or to our Commission concerning lobbying activities. Such figures are practically impossible to state with complete accuracy. To require such reporting creates a burdensome and complex problem. The alternative, which the Commission permitted, of providing a "reasonable estimate" where such figures could not be ascertained with certainty, supplies information that clearly serves no public purpose and is of no value to the Commission in evaluating lobbying activities.
Consequently, the reporting of specific categories of general office overhead by registered lobbyists, clients of lobbyists, and public corporations as a lobbying expense, will no longer be required.
With respect to Item 2), Section 8(b)5(iv) of the Regulation of Lobbying Act provides that "expenses paid or incurred for salaries other than that of the lobbyist shall be listed in the aggregate." In our opinion, this provision does not require the categorization of non-lobbying employees' salaries. It is the opinion of the Commission that reporting the expenses paid or incurred for salaries by the registered lobbyist, the client of a registered lobbyist, or a public corporation for non-lobbying employees' salaries may therefore be reported in the aggregate.
Accordingly, Section IV of the Guidelines and Advisory Opinions 12, 29, and 31 are overruled as they relate to reporting of general office overhead and categorization of non-lobbying employees' salaries.
APPROVED BY COMMISSION: APRIL 14, 1981
CONCURRING: CHAIRMAN S. STANLEY KREUTZER, VICE CHAIRMAN HARVEY M. LIFSET, RICHARD A. BERNSTEIN, GAIL HELLENBRAND, AND WALTER J. MAHONEY./S/