INSTRUCTIONS FOR LOBBYISTS

INSTRUCTIONS FOR LOBBYISTS

(Revised January 2012)

GENERAL INFORMATION

Legislative Law Article 1-A ("Lobbying Act," or "the Act") mandates that the Joint Commission on Public Ethics ("Commission") provide full and complete disclosure as to the identities, activities, and expenditures of those attempting to influence the governmental decision-making process in New York State on both the state and local government levels. Further, pursuant to the Act's provisions, the Commission prepares forms, as well as instructions for completing these forms. The information contained in these instructions is provided to assist you in registering and reporting as a lobbyist. It is not intended to supersede the Lobbying Act itself. Public Corporations and clients should refer to separate instructions available through the Commission.

What is a lobbyist? What is lobbying activity?

The term "lobbyist" shall mean every person or organization employed, retained, or designated by any client to engage in lobbying. The term "lobbying" or "lobbying activity" shall mean and include any attempt to influence:

(i) the passage or defeat of any legislation or resolution by either house of the state legislature, including but not limited to, the introduction or intended introduction of such legislation or resolution, or approval or disapproval of any legislation by the governor;

(ii) the adoption, issuance, rescission, modification or terms of a gubernatorial executive order;

(iii) the adoption or rejection of any rule or regulation having the force and effect of law by a state agency;

(iv) the outcome of any rate making proceeding by a state agency;

(v) any determination:

(A) by a public official, or by a person or entity working in cooperation with a public official related to a governmental procurement, or

(B) by an officer or employee of the unified court system, or by a person or entity working in cooperation with an officer or employee of the unified court system related to a governmental procurement;

(vi) the approval, disapproval, implementation or administration of tribal-state compacts, memoranda of understanding, or any other tribal-state agreements and any other state actions related to Class III gaming as provided in 25 U.S.C. §2701, except to the extent designation of such activities as "lobbying" is barred by the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, by a public official or by a person or entity working in cooperation with a public official in relation to such approval, disapproval, implementation or administration;

(vii) the passage or defeat of any local law, ordinance, resolution, or regulation by any municipality or subdivision thereof;

(viii) the adoption, issuance, rescission, modification or terms of an executive order issued by the chief executive officer of a municipality;

(ix) the adoption or rejection of any rule, regulation, or resolution having the force and effect of a local law ordinance, resolution, or regulation; or

(x) the outcome of any rate making proceeding by any municipality or subdivision thereof.

To whom does the Act apply?

The Lobbying Act applies to lobbyists, public corporations, and clients or employees of lobbyists or clients, who in any year during the biennial period either reasonably anticipate expending, incurring, or receiving, or actually expend, incur, or receive, more than $5,000 in combined reportable compensation and expenses for lobbying activities on a state and/or local level.

What is a client?

The term "client" shall mean every person or organization who retains, employs or designates any person or organization to carry on lobbying activity on behalf of such client.

What is a state agency?

The term "state agency" shall mean any department, board, bureau, commission, division, office, council, committee or officer of the state, whether permanent or temporary, or a public benefit corporation or public authority at least one of whose members is appointed by the governor, authorized by law to make rules or to make final decision in adjudicatory proceedings but shall not include the judicial branch or agencies created by interstate compact or international agreement.

What is an organization?

The term "organization" shall mean any corporation, company, foundation, association, college as defined by Section 2 of the Education law, labor organization, firm, partnership, society, joint stock company, state agency or public corporation.

What is a municipality?

The term "municipality" shall mean any jurisdictional subdivision of the state, including but not limited to counties, cities, towns, villages, improvement districts and special districts, with a population of more than fifty thousand; and industrial development agencies in jurisdictional subdivisions with a population of more than fifty thousand; and public authorities, and public corporations, but shall not include school districts.

What is a reportable business relationship?

The term "reportable business relationship" shall mean a relationship in which compensation is paid by a lobbyist or by a client of a lobbyist, in exchange for any goods, services or anything of value, the total value of which is in excess of $1,000 annually, to be performed or provided by or intended to be performed or provided by:

(i) any statewide elected official, state officer, state employee, member of the legislature or legislative employee, or

(ii) any entity in which the lobbyist or the client of a lobbyist knows or has reason to know the statewide elected official, state officer, state employee, member of the legislature or legislative employee is a proprietor, partner, director, officer or manager, or owns or controls ten percent or more of the stock of such entity. This threshold is reduced to one percent in the case of a corporation whose stock is regularly traded on an established securities exchange.

What is a widely attended event?

The term "widely attended event" shall mean an event:

(A) which at least twenty-five individuals other than members, officers, or employees from the governmental entity in which the public official serves, attends, or were, in good faith, invited to attend, and

(B) which is either related to the attendee's duties or responsibilities, or allows the public official to perform a ceremonial function appropriate to his or her position.

How does one obtain forms to register and report?

The Commission offers three options for filing:

Electronic Filing: The Commission encourages all lobbyists to visit its website https://apps.jcope.ny.gov/lrr to register and report using its electronic filing application. Electronic filing has several advantages not available to paper filers, including twenty-four hour, seven days a week availability, credit card fee payment option and daily access to all of your filings and their processing status. You may also save your filing as you work on entries. You can log on to the online system at our website to apply for a User ID and Password to file electronically. Online filing instructions can be found at any of the Help buttons located within the electronic forms.

PDF Filing: For those lobbyists who do not want to file electronically, but have access to the Internet, you can download and print a PDF version of the registration and bimonthly forms from the Commission's website www.jcope.ny.gov/forms/lobbying.html.

Paper Filing: For those lobbyists who do not have access to the Internet, forms are available by calling the Commission's office at (518) 408-3976. The Commission's office is open from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. on regular state business days. The Commission requires that reports with original signatures be submitted for filing; photocopies and faxes will not be accepted. Consequently, it is important that you allow sufficient time to obtain and submit original forms prior to the filing due dates.

PLEASE NOTE THAT IT TAKES CONSIDERABLY MORE TIME TO PROCESS A PDF OR PAPER FORM - OFTEN 4-6 WEEKS.

Who is responsible for signing and filing lobbyist statements and reports?

If the principal lobbyist is an individual, he/she is responsible for signing and filing all their statements and reports.

If the principal lobbyist is an organization, the chief administrative officer is responsible for signing and filing all lobbyist statements and reports. However, the chief administrative officer may designate another individual, in writing, to make and sign statement(s) and/or report(s). The designated individual must make a written acceptance of such designation and the designation MUST specify which statement(s) and/or report(s) are covered, as well as the specific year or biennial period.

The following is a sample format that may be used for a designation:

I, _______________________________,
(name of Chief Administrative Officer)
_________________________
(title)
of __________________________________________, hereby designate
(name of organization)
__________________________________________ to make and file the
(name of designee)
________________________________________________________ for
(name of statement(s) and/or report(s))
____________________________.
(year or biennial period)

_____________________________________________
(Signature of Chief Administrative Officer)

Accepted by:
______________________________________________
(Signature and Title of Designee)

Please Note - The chief administrative officer may designate another to sign and file the reports, but this designation does not relieve the chief administrative officer of liability due to a failure to file, late filing or false filing of any report(s).

COMMON REGISTRATION QUESTIONS

Is registration required in New York State?

Yes. The Lobbying Act requires public disclosure of the identities, activities, and expenditures of lobbyists. Every lobbyist that reasonably anticipates incurring, expending, or receiving more than $5,000 in combined reportable compensation and expenses for lobbying activity on a state and/or local level, in any year during the biennial period, is required to file a biennial Statement of Registration with the Commission, regardless of when they reach the threshold during the biennial period.

Are there any exemptions to registration requirements?

The following are not required to register:

  • Individual persons who lobby or petition the state or local government, or any agency thereof, solely on their own behalf, for the redress of grievances and to express freely to appropriate officials their opinions on legislative and governmental operations.

  • Any officer, director, trustee, employee, counsel, or agent of the State of New York or any municipality or subdivision thereof of New York, who lobbies on behalf of same, when discharging his or her official duties; however, an officer, director, trustee, employee, counsel or agent of a college, as defined by Section 2 of the Education Law, must register if he or she meets the requirements of the Lobbying Act. (See separate instructions and forms for Public Corporations. Please note that retained lobbyists of Public Corporations must file a Lobbyist Statement of Registration.)

For further details on procurement lobbying exemptions, see §1-c(c)(A-Q).

When is a lobbyist required to register?

All Statements of Registration are required to be filed on a biennial basis as follows:

  • If the lobbyist has been retained, employed, or designated to lobby ON OR BEFORE December 15, and the lobbyist reasonably anticipates combined reportable compensation and expenses in excess of $5,000 for lobbying activities, the Statement of Registration must be filed BY JANUARY 1 of the first year of the biennial period.

  • If the lobbyist has been retained, employed, or designated to lobby on a date AFTER December 15, the Statement of Registration must be filed within 15 days of such date.

In either case, the registration statement is required to be filed within the above-described time period whether or not there is a written authorization signed by the client by whom the lobbyist is authorized to lobby, or a written agreement of retainer or employment signed by both parties.

  • If the lobbyist actually incurs or receives combined compensation and expenses in excess of $5,000, the Statement of Registration must be filed within 10 days of such date.

Is there a registration fee?

A $200 non-refundable registration fee (payable in US dollars) is required to be submitted with each Lobbyist Statement of Registration filed for the biennial period that a lobbyist reasonably anticipates exceeding $5,000 in compensation and expenses for any year in the biennial period. No registration fee is required to be submitted with a biennial Lobbyist Statement of Registration if the lobbyist will not exceed $5,000 in compensation and expenses for that client. Any biennial Lobbyist Statement of Registration submitted after January 1 of the second year of the biennial period shall be accompanied by a prorated registration fee of $100 (payable in US dollars).

Please note: This proration does not apply to biennial Lobbyist Registrations that are filed late and cover the entire biennial period or a portion of both years within the biennial period. In this case, a $200 fee is due at the time of submission. In general, no fee is required for an amended biennial Statement of Registration, provided an original is on file for that same biennial period. However, if subsequent to the filing of a biennial Statement of Registration for which no fee was submitted, the lobbyist later exceeds the $5,000 threshold, an amended biennial registration must be filed within 10 days accompanied by a $200 registration fee (or a $100 fee in the case where a prorated fee is applicable).

Each Statement of Registration must be accompanied by a non-refundable filing fee (payable in US dollars). Any filing fees paid by check must be paid separately from other filings; i.e., one check per filing, made payable to the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics. Any check that includes filing fees for more than one report will be returned to you by the Commission. This is necessary to facilitate the Commission's computer application program. Filing fees may still be paid online with Visa, MasterCard or American Express. A fee may be charged for a returned check.

A registration statement submitted without the required registration fee is incomplete.

THE REGISTRATION FEE IS NON-REFUNDABLE.

Can more than one lobbyist register on one form?

If the principal lobbyist is a retained individual or organization, all other lobbyists employed by such retained organization or individual may be listed as additional lobbyists on the registration. If the principal lobbyist is an employee of the client, only those lobbyists employed by such client may be listed as additional lobbyists. As an alternative, separate registrations can be filed by each lobbyist.

IMPORTANT: If you will be registering for a client who retains or employs other independently registered lobbyists, you MUST register using the same exact client name. Registering with variations of the same client name will cause the Commission to send out delinquent report notices and may subject you to an assessment of a civil penalty fine.

What is required to be submitted with the registration?

A copy of a signed, written lobbying agreement or written authorization must be submitted with each registration. Such agreement must specify the period of the year or biennial period covered and must disclose the terms and amount of compensation. If the lobbyist is retained by the organization, the actual compensation must be reported. If the retainer is based on a daily or hourly rate, the fee per day or per hour must be reported. If the lobbyist is a salaried employee of the organization, the lobbyist's prorated salary for lobbying activity must be reported.

A registration statement submitted without the required agreement or written authorization to lobby from the client is incomplete. A lobbyist who files an incomplete registration may be subject to a late fee or civil penalty.

What if I do not have a written lobbying agreement?

If you do not have a written lobbying agreement, a written authorization, signed by the chief administrative officer of the client or employer, may be substituted and must be submitted together with a written summary of your oral agreement. The terms and amounts of your compensation or salary must be disclosed. Authorizations that are not signed by the chief administrative officer of the client will not be accepted.

I have not received my written authorization yet. May I send my registration in now and send my authorization later?

No. Any registration submitted to the Commission that is not complete (i.e., no Lobbyist Statement of Registration (Amendment) form, no authorization, no signature, no registration fee) will be returned and will not extend the due date for submission.

A lobbyist may not engage in lobbying activity or receive compensation prior to filing a complete registration, and registration is not complete until an executed copy of the written agreement or a written authorization is filed with the Commission.

Can a registration be amended after being filed?

Yes. If any of the information filed by the lobbyist in the original statement of registration changes during the biennial registration period, including the written agreement or written authorization from the client, an amended Lobbyist Statement of Registration form must be completed and filed within 10 days of the change. This amendment must include the name of the lobbyist and client, the new or changed information, and must be signed by the lobbyist, or designee if applicable.

PLEASE NOTE: An amendment is required for a CAO change. In either case, a lobbying entity or a client, if a lobbying agreement is executed by a corporate officer for a corporation or LLC, the fact that the CAO has changed does not invalidate the agreement. However, it does require the filer to amend their filings to notify the Commission of this change.

What is required if a lobbying agreement terminates before the end of the registration period?

Section 1-g of the Lobbying Act requires written notification of the terms of the termination from both the lobbyist and the client within thirty (30) days after the lobbyist ceases lobbying activity. In addition, both parties must still file all required reports by their statutory due dates, reporting all lobbying activity up to the effective date of termination. No notice need be filed if the termination of retainer, employment, or designation takes effect at the end of the biennial registration period.

What is required if a termination has been filed, but lobbying resumes during the biennial registration period?

A written or emailed request may be submitted to the Commission requesting withdrawal of an approved termination. Such request must be signed/submitted by the responsible person, designated person, or registered lobbyist. Once the termination is 'withdrawn' (rejected), an amended Lobbyist Statement of Registration form must be completed and filed within 10 days of the change, in addition to the 'new' written agreement or written authorization from the client.

IMPORTANT: In general, no filing fee is required for an amended biennial Statement of Registration, provided an original is on file for that same biennial period. (i.e., if the registration filing fee has already been paid for this client for this biennial period, it is not necessary to pay the registration filing fee again.)

How is a reportable business relationship reported on the Registration?

Section 1-e(c)(8) requires the following be reported:

  • The name and public office address of any statewide elected official, state officer or employee, member of the legislature or legislative employee and entity with whom the lobbyist has a reportable business relationship;

  • A description of the general subject or subjects of the transactions between the lobbyist or lobbyists and the statewide elected official, state officer or employee, member of the legislature or legislative employee or entity; and

  • The compensation, including expenses, to be paid and paid by virtue of the business relationship.

If you are subject to the requirements of this Section, a 'Business Relationship' form must be submitted each biennial period. The information submitted on this form will appear on each registration (and/or amendment) after the initial submission. (This includes all approved and 'new' registrations.) (SEE On-Demand Video Tutorial for more detailed instruction.)

How are bill numbers and information relative to the introduction or intended introduction of legislation or a resolution reported on a Registration and Bimonthly Reports?

You should report only those numbers that you anticipate you will lobby on during the registration period. Legislation or a resolution that has not yet been introduced (no number to disclose) should be reported in this section by giving a brief description of the intended legislation or resolution. Bills introduced and lobbied on subsequent to registration must be reported on the appropriate bimonthly reports. Similarly, information relative to the introduction of a bill, and the introduction or intended introduction of legislation or a resolution, subsequent to registration, must be reported on the appropriate bimonthly reports.


Please note: You must report the full legal name of the lobbyist and client. Do not use abbreviations or acronyms. Names beginning with "New York" or "New York State" should be listed with (New York or NY) or (New York State or NYS), respectively, after the remainder of the name title.

COMMON REPORTING QUESTIONS

Who must file Lobbyist Bimonthly Reports?

Any lobbyist, required to file a Statement of Registration for a client for any biennial period, must also file a bimonthly report by the 15th day of the month following the end of the bimonthly reporting period in which the lobbyist was first required to register. Subsequent bimonthly reports must be filed by the 15th day of the month following the end of each subsequent bimonthly period thereafter.

Please note: There is NO minimum threshold requirement for filing any Lobbyist Bimonthly Report. Consequently, all Lobbyist Bimonthly Reports are required to be filed for a registration period.

What are the reporting periods and when are the reports due?

There are twelve reporting periods per biennial reporting period:

January 1 - last day of February -- (Report is due March 15)
March 1 - April 30 -- (Report is due May 15)
May 1 - June 30 -- (Report is due July 15)
July 1 - August 31 -- (Report is due September 15)
September 1 - October 31 -- (Report is due November 15)
November 1 - December 31 -- (Report is due January 15)

Please note: Timely reports are those that are RECEIVED in the Commission's office on or before the due date.

What are reportable compensation and reportable expenses?

The term "reportable compensation" shall mean and include any salary, fee, gift, payment, benefit, loan, advance, or any other thing of value paid, owed, given, or promised to the lobbyist by the client, or employer, for lobbying. For reporting purposes, "reportable compensation" shall include any such compensation paid or owed to the lobbyist for the purpose of lobbying. Such report must include all salaries and other compensation paid to staff such as those of lobbying employees or clerical help. All reportable compensation in any form must be recorded during the calendar year when it was accrued.

Reportable expenses are any expenditure incurred by or reimbursed to the lobbyist for the purpose of lobbying. Reportable expenses may include items which, in and of themselves, do not constitute lobbying, but when used as part of a lobbying effort become reportable expenses. Examples reviewed under the definition are non inclusive and practitioners are encouraged to request Commission clarification prior to completing their reports.

Reportable expenses may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Advertising, telephone, electronic advocacy, food, beverages, tickets, entertainment, parties, receptions or similar events, advocacy rallies, consultant services, expenses for non-lobbying support staff, and courier services when said expenses are part of a lobbying effort.

  • Any item that is exempt as a gift in Section 1 (c)(j) of the Lobbying Act must be reported if it is part of your lobbying effort.

What expenses are not required to be reported?

  • Expenses for political contributions pursuant to Article 14 of the Election law.

  • Payments or expenses incurred by the lobbyist for their own personal sustenance, travel, and lodging.

  • General office rent and utility expenses of the lobbyist.

  • Expenses directly incurred for printing, mailing, and reproduction of letters, memoranda, or other written communications are not reportable until such expenses exceed $500 in any calendar year; however, once this amount has been exceeded, the entire cost is reportable.

  • Ordinary membership dues paid to an organization that is registered to lobby to the extent said dues are not directed by the payor to be expended as part of the payor's lobbying effort.

How should my expenses be reported?

All expenses must be disclosed, including expenses that are or will be reimbursed, during the period in which they are incurred or expended. In addition, if the lobbyist receives the reimbursement for these expenses during the reporting period, they must also disclose this amount under reimbursed expenses.

If a lobbying expense exceeds $75, must it be itemized?

An expense in excess of $75 must be fully identified and include the name of the person or entity to whom it was paid, as well as the purpose for which it was paid (see "Lobbyist Bimonthly Report Designated Addendum Sheet(s)"). If any portion of this expense is attributable to one individual in an amount in excess of $75, that individual's identity must be disclosed. Expenses below $75 may be reported in the aggregate.

What type of documentation of expenses must be kept?

A lobbyist must be able to document any expense of more than fifty dollars by receipt or canceled check for a period of three years from the date of filing. It is important to note that the Commission conducts random audits of filings pursuant to the Act. These audits may require lobbyists to produce books, records, papers or memoranda, and material relevant to the preparation of the selected filing. Failure to retain records as required may subject a lobbyist to a civil penalty of $2,000.

Can certain expenses be estimated?

Yes. In cases where it is not possible to determine exact dollar amounts (such as photocopying, phone bills, in-house printing and reproduction expenses), good faith estimates of such costs, based on generally accepted accounting procedures, may be used.

If I have been retained or employed to lobby on both a state and local level, how should expenses and compensation be reported?

Compensation and expenses for local and state level lobbying must be reported on the same form. At this time, the Commission is not requiring that local compensation or expenses be reported separately from state compensation and expenses.

Does a Lobbyist Bimonthly Report have to be filed if a registered lobbyist does not have any compensation or expenses for the reporting period?

The Lobbying Act requires that a report be filed by a registered lobbyist for each reporting period even if no compensation or expenses have been paid or incurred. Expense and compensation boxes should be completed with zeros for such periods.

Can a Lobbyist Bimonthly Report be withdrawn after submission?

Bimonthly Reports filed showing $0 in compensation/expenses, no lobbying activity, and whose agreements/authorizations have 'expired' or been terminated, may be requested to be withdrawn by the lobbyist unilaterally (confirmation from the client is not required). Such request must be signed and/or submitted via email by the responsible person, designated person, or registered lobbyist. A bimonthly report that has been amended to remove compensation and/or lobbying activity requires client confirmation for withdrawal.

What should the lobbyist do if a report cannot be filed by the statutory due date?

Requests for extensions of filing time can be made in writing and must be received in the Commission's office no later than two business days prior to the filing due date. Such request must contain good cause and shall be granted at the discretion of the Executive Director of the Commission.

Are lobbyists required to file Lobbyist Semi-Annual Reports?

The bimonthly reports for the periods covering May through June and November through December are considered semi-annual reports for lobbying reporting purposes. Since you are required to file bimonthly reports for each reporting period that your lobbying agreement covers, there is no separate lobbyist semi-annual report to file.

If a report is due on a weekend or a State holiday, when should the report be filed?

The report must be received in the Commission's office on the first business day following the weekend or State holiday.

What are the retention requirements for filings?

All biennial Statements of Registration should be retained by the lobbyist for three biennial filing periods (six years). All Lobbyist and Public Corporation Bimonthly Reports filed with the Commission should be retained by the lobbyist for a period of three years.


PLEASE NOTE: All sections of the reporting forms must be completed. If a section of the report does not apply for a particular reporting period, fill in "0" in all numeric sections and none, or N/A, in all other sections. Reports with blank or incomplete sections will be returned for proper completion. Please note that this may cause you to be late and incur late filing fees.

DISBURSEMENT OF PUBLIC MONIES BIMONTHLY REPORTS

Who must file Lobbyist Disbursement of Public Monies Bimonthly Reports?

Beginning January 1, 2008, any lobbyist required to file a Statement of Registration with the Commission who in any lobbying year reasonably anticipates that during the year they will expend, incur or receive combined reportable compensation and expenses in an amount in excess of $5,000 in connection with any attempts to influence a determination by a public official, or by a person or entity working in cooperation with a public official, with respect to the solicitation, award or administration of a grant, loan, or agreement involving the disbursement of public monies in excess of $15,000 other than a governmental procurement as defined in Section 1-c, will be required to file a NYS Lobbyist Disbursement of Public Monies Report. (Lobbying Act Section 1-l)

The reports are to be filed only by registered lobbyists, including public corporations. The threshold relates only to compensation and expenses attributable to the activities described above, and is in addition to and separate from the similar threshold for lobbyist registration.

What are public monies?

The Commission's Guidelines state "public monies" are funds that have been appropriated as part of a passed budget, which are designated for programs, grants or are discretionary funds, but which have not been allocated to specific recipients.

What are the reporting periods and when are the reports due?

These separate reports are required to be filed in accordance with the same schedule applicable to the filing of bimonthly reports. Unlike lobbyist and public corporation bimonthly reports required by Sections 1-h and 1-i, the NYS Lobbyist Disbursement of Public Monies Reports are required to be filed only for bimonthly reporting periods during which the lobbyist has made any attempts to influence a public official with respect to disbursement of public monies, or receives compensation or reimbursement of expenses for such activities.

If a report is required to be filed, the schedule for filing reports is as follows:

January 1 - last day of February -- (Report is due March 15)
March 1 - April 30 -- (Report is due May 15)
May 1 - June 30 -- (Report is due July 15)
July 1 - August 31 -- (Report is due September 15)
September 1 - October 31 -- (Report is due November 15)
November 1 - December 31 -- (Report is due January 15)

Please note: Timely reports are those that are RECEIVED in the Commission's office on or before the due date.

What are reportable compensation and reportable expenses?

The term "reportable compensation" shall mean and include any salary, fee, gift, payment, benefit, loan, advance, or any other thing of value paid, owed, given, or promised to the lobbyist by the client, or employer, for activities covered by Section 1-l. For reporting purposes, "reportable compensation" shall include any such compensation paid or owed to the lobbyist for the purpose of lobbying. Such report must include all salaries and other compensation paid to staff such as those of lobbying employees or clerical help. All reportable compensation in any form must be recorded during the calendar year when it was accrued.

Reportable expenses are any expenditure incurred by or reimbursed to the lobbyist for the purpose of lobbying. Reportable expenses may include items which, in and of themselves, do not constitute lobbying, but when used as part of a lobbying effort become reportable expenses. Examples reviewed under the definition are non inclusive and practitioners are encouraged to request Commission clarification prior to completing their reports.

Reportable expenses may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Advertising, telephone, electronic advocacy, food, beverages, tickets, entertainment, parties, receptions or similar events, advocacy rallies, consultant services, expenses for non-lobbying support staff, and courier services when said expenses are part of a lobbying effort.

  • Any item that is exempt as a gift in Section 1 (c)(j) of the Lobbying Act must be reported if it is part of your lobbying effort.

What expenses are not required to be reported?

  • Expenses for political contributions pursuant to Article 14 of the Election law.

  • Payments or expenses incurred by the lobbyist for their own personal sustenance, travel, and lodging.

  • General office rent and utility expenses of the lobbyist.

  • Expenses directly incurred for printing, mailing, and reproduction of letters, memoranda, or other written communications are not reportable until such expenses exceed $500 in any calendar year; however, once this amount has been exceeded, the entire cost is reportable.

  • Ordinary membership dues paid to an organization that is registered to lobby to the extent said dues are not directed by the payor to be expended as part of the payor’s lobbying effort.

How should my expenses be reported?

All expenses must be disclosed, including expenses that are or will be reimbursed, during the period in which they are incurred or expended. In addition, if the lobbyist receives the reimbursement for these expenses during the reporting period, they must also disclose this amount under reimbursed expenses.

Can certain expenses be estimated?

Yes. In cases where it is not possible to determine exact dollar amounts (such as photocopying, phone bills, in-house printing and reproduction expenses), good faith estimates of such costs, based on generally accepted accounting procedures, may be used.

If I have been retained or employed to lobby on both a state and local level, how should expenses and compensation be reported?

Compensation and expenses for local and state level lobbying must be reported on the same form. At this time, the Commission is not requiring that local compensation or expenses be reported separately from state compensation and expenses.

Does a Lobbyist Disbursement of Public Monies Report have to be filed if a registered lobbyist does not have any compensation or expenses for the reporting period?

Unlike lobbyist and public corporation bimonthly reports required by sections 1-h and 1-i, the NYS Lobbyist Disbursement of Public Monies Reports are required to be filed only for bimonthly reporting periods during which the lobbyist has made any attempts to influence a public official with respect to disbursement of public monies, or receives compensation or reimbursement of expenses for such activities.

Reports are required regardless of whether the grant, loan or agreement payment is received.

No corresponding client reports are required to be filed.

What should the lobbyist do if a report cannot be filed by the statutory due date?

Requests for extensions of filing time can be made in writing and must be received in the Commission's office no later than two business days prior to the filing due date. Such request must contain good cause and shall be granted at the discretion of the Executive Director of the Commission.

If a report is due on a weekend or a State holiday, when should the report be filed?

The report must be received in the Commission's office on the first business day following the weekend or State holiday.

What are the retention requirements for Lobbyist Disbursement of Public Monies Bimonthly Reports?

These records should be retained for a period of three years.


PLEASE NOTE: All sections of the reporting forms must be completed. If a section of the report does not apply for a particular reporting period, fill in "0" in all numeric sections and none, or N/A, in all other sections. Reports with blank or incomplete sections will be returned for proper completion. Please note that this may cause you to be late and incur late filing fees.

MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION

Are there any prohibitions in the Lobbying Act?

The Lobbying Act prohibits the following:

  • Retaining or employing any lobbyist and the acceptance of any such retainer or employment by any lobbyist where the compensation is contingent on the outcome of such lobbying activity. "Compensation" includes any fee, bonus, stock option, equity inducement or other form of remuneration. This is a Class A misdemeanor.

  • An individual or entity required to be listed on a Statement of Registration pursuant to Article 1-A of the Legislative Law from offering or giving a gift to a Public Official. (Definitions of "gift" and "Public Official" can be found in the Lobbying Act.) Any lobbyist, public corporation or client who violates this prohibition shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor for a first violation and a class E felony for a second violation within five years of the first. Further, such lobbyist, public corporation or client is also subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed the greater of $25,000 or three times the amount of the gift. Any lobbyist convicted of or pleading guilty to a felony under the provisions of Section 1-o may be barred from acting as a lobbyist for a period of one year from the date of the conviction.

  • A person or organization required to file a statement or report pursuant to this article from engaging in lobbying activities concerning a governmental procurement during the restricted period as defined in §1-c(m) of the Act by contacting:

    * any other person within the procuring entity other than the designated contact; or

    * any person in a state agency other than the state agency conducting the governmental procurement.

A first-time violation of this provision may subject the person or organization to a civil penalty of up to $10,000. Subsequent violations of this provision within four years of the initial violation may subject the person or organization to a civil penalty fine of up to $25,000.

What if my filing is late?

First time filers may be charged a late filing fee of no more than $10 per day for each day the required filing is late. All others may be charged a late filing fee of $25 per day for each day the required filing is late.

Are there any other penalties for not filing a required statement or report?

Failure to file a statement or report may subject the lobbyist to a civil penalty fine not to exceed the greater of $25,000 or three times the amount the person failed to report properly. In addition, a lobbyist may be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor for a first time failure and a Class E felony for subsequent failures within five years of the first.

ACCESS TO PUBLICLY AVAILABLE DOCUMENTS

Are a lobbyist's statement and reports publicly available?

Any lobbying statement or report filed with the Commission is accessible to the public for a period of three years (for annual filings) and three biennial periods or six years (for biennial filings). The public may access these filings in one of three ways:

  • These reports are directly accessible through the website www.jcope.ny.gov; or

  • By mailing, faxing or emailing a written request for copies of records to the Records Access Officer; or

  • By making an appointment with the Records Access Officer to inspect and copy documents at the Commission's offices. With a prior appointment, inspection may occur on days that the Commission is regularly open for business from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics may charge copying fees in accordance with it's Regulations for Access to Publicly Available Records.