A person or organization on whose behalf Lobbying Activity is conducted. A Client can retain, employ, or designate any person or organization to carry on Lobbying Activity on behalf of itself or another.
Please see "Filing Information and Requirements" section for information related to the following topics:
- Filing Fees
- Online Filing System
- Records Retention Requirements
- Late Fees
Prohibitions in the Lobbying Act
Gifts to Public Officials
In general, you cannot offer or give a gift to any Public Official. It is only permissible to offer or give the gift if, under the circumstances, all of the following criteria are met:
- it is not reasonable to infer that the gift was intended to influence the Public Official; and
- the gift could not reasonably be expected to influence the Public Official, in the performance of his or her official duties; and
- it is not reasonable to infer that the gift was intended as a reward for any official action on the Public Official’s part.
In addition, no Lobbyist or Client may re-direct a gift to a third party, including a Charitable Organization, on behalf of or at the direction of a Public Official if such gift cannot be offered directly to the Public Official. Multiple permissible gifts given to a Public Official may also violate the gift prohibition if it can be reasonable to infer that the multiple gifts collectively were given with the intent to or could reasonably be expected to influence the Public Official or reward such Official’s actions.
Gift shall mean anything of more than Nominal Value in any form including, but not limited to: money; service; loan; travel; lodging; meals; refreshments; entertainment; discount; or a forbearance of an obligation or a promise that has a monetary value.
Certain items are excluded and are not considered Gifts, including:
- Food or beverage valued at $15 or less per occasion
- Gifts from family members or friends
- Promotional items with no substantial resale value
- Awards, plaques or other ceremonial items
- Meals for participants at a professional or educational program
- Complimentary attendance, including food and beverage, at a bona fide charitable event or a bona fide political event
- Complimentary attendance, including food and beverage, offered by the sponsor of a Widely Attended Event
Any Lobbyist, Public Corporation, or Client who violates this prohibition may be subject to civil penalties of up $25,000 or three times the value of the gift and/or a class A misdemeanor for a first violation, and a class E felony for a second violation within five years of the first. Any Lobbyist convicted of or pleading guilty to such a felony may be barred from engaging in procurement lobbying for a period of one year from the date of the conviction.
For more details on gifts, see the Commission’s regulations at 19 NYCRR Part 934.
Public Service Announcements
Generally, a public service announcement ("PSA") is a communication that is designed to promote programs, activities, or services of nonprofit organizations or federal, state, or local governments, or imparts information generally regarded as serving the public interest.
The Commission adopted regulations at 19 NYCRR Part 940 to provide guidance as to what constitutes a PSA; to clarify that an appearance in a PSA does not ordinarily constitute a “gift” under the Lobbying Act or the Public Officers Law; and to place limitations on when certain individuals – referred to as “Covered Officials” – who are also Candidates may appear in PSAs.
Examples of PSAs include, but are not limited to, communications regarding nonprofit or governmental outreach or awareness activities such as: breast cancer screening; heart disease prevention; domestic violence awareness and prevention; energy conservation; organ donation; emergency or other disaster relief; programs designed to encourage reading; job training and job fairs; and fund drives for charitable activities.
Covered Officials, as defined in Part 940, are prohibited from appearing in a PSA within 90 calendar days of an election in which he or she is a Candidate. A knowing violation of this provision may subject the Covered Official to penalties contained in the Public Officers Law.
No Client may pay and no Lobbyist may receive Compensation in which the amount or rate is contingent on the outcome or terms of any Attempt to Influence an activity listed in sections 1-c(c)(i)-(x) of the Lobbying Act. A violation of this provision can result in a civil penalty of up to $10,000 or the value of the contingent fee, as well as a Class A misdemeanor.
Client Reporting Requirements
The Lobbying Act states that any Client retaining, employing or designating a Lobbyist or Lobbyists - whether or not any such Lobbyist was required to file a Statement of Registration or Bi-monthly Report - who reasonably anticipates that during the year an amount in excess of $5,000 in combined Reportable Compensation and Expenses for Lobbying will be expended or incurred, is required to submit a Client Semi-Annual Report1.
The amounts of Reportable Compensation and Expenses expended, incurred, or received for Lobbying Activities must be computed cumulatively for all Lobbying Activities when determining whether the threshold has been met.
Client Semi-Annual Report Due Dates
The first Client Semi-Annual Report is due by the 15th day of the month following the end of the relevant reporting period.
Generally, there are two reporting periods per calendar year:
January/June Client Semi-Annual Reports
July/December Client Semi-Annual Reports
¬ PLEASE NOTE: Timely reports are those that are received by the Commission's office on or before the due date. If a report is due on a weekend or a State holiday, the report must be received in the Commission's office on the first business day following the weekend or State holiday. The Commission does not consider the postmarked date or declaration signature date as the date of receipt for filings.
Are Client Semi-Annual Reports still required to be filed if a Client does not meet the reporting threshold?
No. If the reporting threshold will not be met, or you do not reasonably anticipate that during the year the threshold will be met, the Client is not required to submit Client Semi-Annual Reports.
If the $5,000 reporting threshold is exceeded in the January/June period, then a July/December Client Semi-Annual Report must be filed even if no further monies are expended, unless the written agreement or authorization with the Client’s Lobbyist is terminated on or before June 30th.
If a January/June Client Semi-Annual Report is filed and the $5,000 reporting threshold has not been met for the year, then a July/December Client Semi-Annual Report is not required.
Is there a Client Semi-Annual filing fee?
Yes. A $50 non-refundable filing fee2 is required to be submitted with each Client Semi-Annual Report, which must include the following:
- The type of Lobbying which shall indicate whether the Lobbying involved non-procurement Lobbying, Procurement Lobbying or both;
- The Client Information which shall include the Client’s name, address, and business and fax numbers;
- The Lobbyist Information which shall include the type of Lobbyist (retained, employed, or designated), level of government lobbying (State and/or local), and Lobbyist name and address;
- All reportable Expenses (as defined) expended, received or incurred for Lobbying for the current period only;
- All reportable Lobbying Compensation (as defined) paid or owed to Lobbyists, including Retained, Employed, and Designated Lobbyists, for the current period only;
- Any reportable Compensation and Expenses incurred by an employee (“in-house”) Lobbyist must be included in the Client Semi-Annual Report, regardless of whether the organization also files Lobbyist Bi-Monthly Reports.
- The identities of all parties to the Lobbying;
- The subject matter(s) on which Lobbying occurred;
- The governmental action that the Client or the Client’s Lobbyist Attempted to Influence which shall include the following, as applicable:
- The bill, rule, regulation, or rate number, if available, on which Lobbying occurred;
- The title and identifying numbers of Procurement Contracts/documents on which Lobbying occurred;
- The number or subject matter of an Executive Order of the Governor or Municipality on which Lobbying occurred;
- The subject matter of and tribes involved in tribal-state compacts on which Lobbying occurred; and/or
- In the event Lobbying is conducted in order to influence the introduction, intended introduction, or issuance of State legislation or a State resolution, a brief description of such activity.
- The name of the person, organization, or legislative body before which the Client or Client’s Lobbyist has lobbied.
- Any Reportable Business Relationships, provided, however, Clients who Lobby on their own behalf need only report such relationships in their Lobbyist Statement of Registration.
- Any Source of Funding, if applicable.
What is required if a lobbying agreement terminates before the end of the biennial registration period?
Section 1-g of the Lobbying Act generally requires written notification of the terms of the termination from both the Lobbyist and the Client within 30 days of the termination date.
However, if the contract terms expire at the end of the biennial registration cycle, written notification of a termination is not required.
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.
What is required if a termination has been filed, but lobbying resumes during the biennial registration cycle?
Your Lobbyist may submit a written or emailed request to the Commission requesting withdrawal of an approved termination. Once the termination is 'withdrawn' (rejected), your Lobbyist will submit an Amended Lobbyist Statement of Registration form, and include a 'new' written agreement or written authorization from the Client.
You may be required to submit Client Semi-Annual Reports.
Guide to Lobbying Reporting
Sample Letter to Aid Filers
The following sample letter is provided and intended to aid the lobbying community. It may not cover every possible situation that may occur. If additional assistance is required, Commission staff should be contacted. The content of all correspondence is the responsibility of the sender and is subject to review and final approval by the NYS Joint Commission on Public Ethics.
Letters may be mailed to the following address:
NYS Joint Commission on Public Ethics
Albany, New York 12207
Designation Sample Letter
This sample letter allows a chief administrative officer of an organization to designate another individual to make and sign statement(s) and/or report(s). A "Designation Letter" is not necessary for filers utilizing the online filing system.
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).
Additional Informational Resources
Engineers and architects are routinely involved in land use, building construction, and planning activities which may include interactions with public officials. Depending on the nature of the interaction with a public official, there can also be registration and reporting obligations under the Lobbying Act. The information contained in this document should be used as a starting point for any analysis under the Lobbying Act, and does not carry the force of law.
Contact Lobbying Filings Specialist
For technical assistance, or help with disclosure forms, the Lobbying help desk is available from 8:30 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, by contacting the phone numbers or email address below.