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The State Commission on Public Integrity is responsible for ensuring compliance with the standards that the Public Employee Ethics Reform Act of 2007 established for lobbyists, their clients, and both officers and employees of the Executive Branch of State government. It does this by educating individuals under its jurisdiction, providing advice, collecting records that certain individuals are required to file, working with State agencies and those subject to the lobbying law to encourage compliance and, when necessary, enforcing the law and imposing penalties.

According to semi-annual reports filed with the Commission, $197.8 million was spent on lobbying in 2009.

In 2009, the Commission began imposing penalties on lobbyists and clients who held receptions for legislators in violation of the law. To date, several such entities have admitted violating the law. The names of legislators and staff who attend those events have been forwarded to the Legislative Ethics Commission (“LEC”) for appropriate action. We note, however, that subsequently the LEC issued two unsigned opinions, essentially stating that legislators and their staff who attend such events do not violate the law, even though the organizations sponsoring the events have made that admission.

The Commission also held a public hearing on legislative proposals to improve the lobbying law. A total of eighteen individuals either appeared personally or delivered statements commenting on the proposals, which are discussed in the “Legislation” section of this report.

The Commission directly conducted 190 training sessions and began an on-line educational program in 2009, as well as issuing 151 informal advisory opinions and responding to innumerable telephone calls seeking advice.

When necessary, the Commission has imposed significant penalties on those who violated the law. A lobbyist was required to hire an outside monitor to ensure the lobbyist has adequate compliance procedures and that any future violations of the lobbying law are promptly reported to the Commission. In addition, the lobbyist agreed to pay a $10,000 penalty. The Commission settled one lobbying case for $60,000 and another case, with a former State employee, for $25,000, demonstrating its willingness to punish those who violate the law.

Because of the State’s difficult financial situation, the Commission, like other State agencies, faced cutbacks in travel and personnel. We have strived to fulfill our responsibilities while facing these difficult fiscal realities.

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