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Lobbyist

Lobbyist
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Lobbyist

A person or organization who engages in Lobbying Activity1 and includes Retained, Employed, and Designated Lobbyists.  While Lobbyist includes officers, directors, trustees, employees, counsels, or agents of colleges, as defined by section two of the Education Law, the term does not include any other officer, director, trustee, employee, counsel or agent of the State, or any Municipality or subdivision thereof when discharging their official duties.

Please see "Filing Information and Requirements" section for information related to the following topics:

  • Forms
  • Filing Fees
  • Online Filing System
  • Records Retention Requirements
  • Late Fees
  • Penalties
 
1 Refer to Chapter 1 in the "Guide to Lobbying Reporting" for a more information related to the definition of Lobbying.

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.

 

Contingent Retainers

 

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.

Registration and Reporting Requirements

Is registration required in New York State?

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 calendar year during the biennial period is required to register and report with the Commission, regardless of when the threshold is reached during the biennial period.

Once a Lobbyist meets or anticipates meeting the cumulative $5,000 threshold, a Lobbyist must file a Statement of Registration for every Client for whom the Lobbyist lobbies, regardless of Compensation or Expenses paid by each Client individually.

 

¬ Please note:   Individuals identified as Lobbyists must complete regular ethics training at least once in any three-year period during which they are registered as a Lobbyist with JCOPE. 

 

 

When is a Lobbyist required to register?

  • BY JANUARY 1 of the first year of the biennial period if the Lobbyist is providing services under an agreement that is in effect both before December 15th of the year immediately preceding the first year of a biennial registration period and after January 1st of the first year of a biennial registration period, and the Lobbyist reasonably anticipates combined Reportable Compensation and Expenses in excess of $5,000 for Lobbying Activities to be undertaken in the coming year. The Lobbyist must also ensure they have registered for all corresponding biennial registration periods.
  • Lobbyists retained, employed, or designated to Lobby after December 15th of the year preceding the first year of the biennial period, for activity in either year of the biennial period, are required to submit a biennial Statement of Registration within fifteen (15) days of the date on which the Lobbyist has agreed to – or been authorized to – begin Lobbying Activity.
  • If a Lobbyist actually expends, incurs or receives more than $5,000 of combined reportable compensation and expenses, a Statement of Registration must be submitted no later than ten (10) days after exceeding the threshold.

 

¬ 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.

 

Is there a Registration filing fee?

Yes.  A $200 non-refundable registration fee is required to be submitted with each biennial Lobbyist Statement of Registration for each Client for whom the Lobbyist reasonably anticipates exceeding $5,000 in combined Reportable Compensation and Expenses in any calendar year within the biennial period. 

A prorated $100 non-refundable registration fee is required with each biennial Lobbyist Statement of Registration submitted after January 1 of the second calendar year of the biennial period that the Lobbyist reasonably anticipates exceeding $5,000 in combined reportable compensation and expense for that calendar year within the biennial period. 

¬ Please note: The prorated $100 registration fee does not apply to any biennial Lobbyist Registrations that are filed late and cover the entire biennial period, or a portion of both calendar years within the biennial period.  In these instances, the $200 registration fee would be due at time of submission.

 

 

No registration fee is required to be submitted with:

  • A Biennial Public Corporation Statement of Registration.

  • A Biennial Lobbyist Statement of Registration if the Lobbyist will not exceed $5,000 in compensation and expenses for that Client.

  • An amended biennial Statement of Registration, provided a registration fee has already been submitted for that same biennial period.  Please be aware, if you submitted a Statement of Registration and did not pay the registration fee, and you later determine the $5,000 threshold has been exceeded, you will be required to submit an Amended Statement of Registration accompanied by a $200 registration fee (or a $100 fee in the case where a prorated fee is applicable).  The Amended Statement of Registration is due within 10 days of exceeding the threshold.

 

Every Registration must disclose the following information:

  • the name of the Principal Lobbyist;
  • the name of all Individual Lobbyists to perform lobbying services on behalf of the Client;
  • the subject matter on which the Lobbyist expects to Lobby;
  • the target(s) of the expected Lobbying, including the person, organization, entity, or legislative body before which the Lobbyist intends to Lobby;
  • the government activity on which the Lobbying is expected to occur, which shall include the following:
    • bill, rule, regulation, rate number or brief description relative to the introduction or intended introduction of legislation or a resolution;
    • the title and identifying numbers of Procurement Contracts/documents or a general description of the Procurement;
    • the number or subject matter of an Executive Order of the Governor or Municipality; and
    • the subject matter of and tribes involved in tribal-state compacts;
  • the Client information, including the Clients’ names, business addresses, phone and email contacts, the nature of business, and the Chief Administrative Officers’ names and titles;
  • the level of government expected to be lobbied (State lobbying, local Lobbying or both);
  • any Reportable Business Relationships.

 

Every Registration must also include:

(1) An executed Lobbying Agreement form, or a copy of a signed, written Lobbying agreement or written authorization.

  1. Copies of Lobbying agreements or written authorizations must contain the following:
    1. A start date, which is the first date the Lobbyist has agreed to or been authorized to Lobby;
    2.  Signatures of the Responsible Party for the Client and Lobbyist, or another person with the authority to enter the Lobbyist into a binding contract;
    3. The date(s) of execution;
    4. A statement indicating that other services will be provided in addition to Lobbying, if applicable;
    5. A termination (end) date, which is the last date the Lobbyist has agreed to or been authorized to Lobby;
      1. in the case of a month-to-month agreement, the termination (end) date shall be presumed to be the end of the current biennial period, unless otherwise specified; and
    6. The Compensation to be paid specifically for Lobbying services, including pay frequency and/or rate of pay.
      1. If the Lobbyist is retained for Lobbying, the actual Compensation must be reported.
      2. If the retainer is based on a monthly, daily or hourly rate, the fee per month, day or per hour must be reported.
      3. If multiple parties with multiple hourly rates will be covered by the retainer, all rates shall be disclosed.
      4. If the Lobbyist is a salaried employee, the Lobbyist’s prorated salary for Lobbying Activity must be reported.
  2. If the Lobbyist is retained under terms of an oral agreement, a written summary of such terms may be submitted with a Statement of Registration, and must be signed by Responsible Party.

A Statement of Registration is not deemed to be received unless and until the Statement is complete and includes the filing fee and executed Lobbying Agreement.

Agreements or written authorizations may be mailed to the following address:

NYS Joint Commission on Public Ethics
540 Broadway
Albany, New York 12207

Bi-monthly Reporting

The Lobbying Act states that any Lobbyist required to file a Statement of Registration for any Client in a biennial period must also file Bi-monthly Reports, regardless of Compensation, Expenses, or Lobbying Activity.

 

Is a Bi-monthly report still required to be filed if a registered Lobbyist does not have any reportable Compensation or Expenses for the reporting period?

Yes.  The Lobbying Act requires that a Bi-monthly 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 fields should be completed with zeros for such periods.

 

¬ NOTE:  There is NO minimum activity or expenditure threshold requirement for filing any Bi-monthly Report.  Consequently, a Bi-monthly Report is required to be filed regardless of whether Compensation and Expenses were incurred, received or expended, or Lobbying Activity was engaged in during the two months covered by the Bi-monthly Report.  If the relationship between the Lobbyist and Client has terminated, both parties are required to file all required reports by their statutory due dates, reporting all Lobbying Activity up to the effective date of termination.

 

Bi-monthly Report due dates

The first Bi-monthly Report is due by the 15th day of the month following the end of the relevant reporting period.  There are twelve reporting periods in every two-year registration cycle.

 

FILING

FILING DEADLINE

January/February Bi-monthly Reports
(January 1 – last day of February)

March 15

March/April Bi-monthly Reports
(March 1 – April 30)

May 15

May/June Bi-monthly Reports
(May 1 – June 30)

July 15

July/August Bi-monthly Reports
(July 1 – August 31)

September 15

September/October Bi-monthly Reports
(September 1 – October 31)

November 15

November/December Bi-monthly Reports
(November 1 – December 31)

January 15

 

 

¬  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.

 

 

Is the January/February Bi-monthly Report always the first Bi-monthly Report required to be submitted?

No.  The first Bi-monthly Report required for submission is determined by either:

  1. The date on which the Lobbyist has agreed to – or been authorized to – begin Lobbying Activity if the Lobbyist reasonably anticipates combined Reportable Compensation and Expenses in excess of $5,000 for Lobbying Activities to be undertaken in the calendar year.  The start date can dictate which Bi-monthly Report is required to be filed first.

1.1 Example If the start date is January 1, the January/February Bi-monthly Report is the first Report required to be filed.

OR

  1. The date on which the Lobbyist incurs, expends, or receives more than $5,000 in combined Reportable Compensation and Expenses for Lobbying Activity on a State and/or local level.  Exceeding the threshold can also dictate which Bi-monthly Report is required to be filed first.

2.1 Example If you began lobbying January 1, and did not anticipate exceeding the threshold, but then did exceed in the month of May, the first Bi-Monthly Report filed is the Report covering the May - June time period (due July 15).  This Bi-monthly Report must disclose all Lobbying Activities engaged in, Compensation received, and Expenditures incurred from January (when actual Lobbying Activity began) through June (after the threshold was exceeded).  Thereafter, each Bi-Monthly Report will only disclose Lobbying Activities, Compensation and Expenditures engaged, received or incurred within the applicable 2-month time period.

In summary, if the first required Bi-monthly Report filed by a Lobbyist for a calendar year is not the Report covering the January – February period (due March 15), the Report should disclose all Lobbying Activities engaged in, Compensation received, and Expenditures incurred during the year up to and including the period covered by the Report.

 

Every Bi-monthly Report must disclose the following information:

  1. The name, address, and telephone number of the Principal Lobbyist;
  2. The names of all Individual Lobbyists who personally engaged in Lobbying Activity during the filing period;
  3. The name, address, e-mail address, and contact information of all Clients;
  4. The identities of any other parties to the Lobbying;
  5. The subject matter(s) on which Lobbying occurred; and
  6. The governmental action that the Lobbyist Attempted to Influence which shall include the following, as applicable:
    1. The bill, rule, regulation, or rate number, if available, on which Lobbying occurred;
    2. The title and identifying numbers of Procurement Contracts/documents on which Lobbying occurred;
    3. The number or subject matter of an Executive Order of the Governor or Municipality on which Lobbying occurred;
    4. The subject matter of and tribes involved in tribal-state compacts on which Lobbying occurred; and /or
    5. 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.
  7. The name of the person, organization, or legislative body before which the Lobbyist has lobbied.
  8. All reportable Lobbying Compensation and Expenses (as defined) paid or owed by the Client for the current period only.

 

Disbursement of Public Monies Reporting

The Lobbying Act states a NYS Lobbyist Disbursement of Public Monies Report ("DPM") must be completed by a Lobbyist when:

  • the Lobbyist is otherwise already required to file a Statement of Registration with the Commission; and
  • reasonably anticipates that during the calendar 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.

The $5,000 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 set forth in Section 1-e of the Lobbying Act.

 

Is a DPM Report still required to be filed if a registered Lobbyist does not have any DPM reportable Compensation or Expenses for the reporting period?

No.  DPM Reports are only required to be filed for Bi-monthly reporting periods during which the Lobbyist has made any Attempts to Influence 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, regardless of whether the grant, loan or agreement payment is received.

 

What are the DPM reporting periods and when are they due?

These separate reports are required to be filed in accordance with the same schedule applicable to the filing of Bi-monthly Reports.  The first DPM Bi-monthly is due by the 15th day of the month following the end of the relevant reporting period.

DPM due dates:

 

FILING

FILING DEADLINE

January/February Bi-monthly Reports
(January 1 – last day of February)

March 15

March/April Bi-monthly Reports
(March 1 – April 30)

May 15

May/June Bi-monthly Reports
(May 1 – June 30)

July 15

July/August Bi-monthly Reports
(July 1 – August 31)

September 15

September/October Bi-monthly Reports
(September 1 – October 31)

November 15

November/December Bi-monthly Reports
(November 1 – December 31)

January 15

 

¬ 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.

 

DPM Reports must disclose the following information:

  1. The name, address, and telephone number of the Lobbyist and the individuals employed by the Lobbyist engaged in such Public Monies Lobbying Activities;

  2. The name, address, and telephone number of the Client by whom or on whose behalf the Lobbyist is retained, employed or designated on whose behalf the Lobbyist has engaged in Public Monies Lobbying Activities;
  3. The identities of any other parties to the Lobbying, including all Lobbyists and Clients;

 

Lobbyist Termination

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

Section 1-g of the Lobbying Act generally requires written notification 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 period, 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.

 

Can an approval termination be withdrawn after submission?

Yes.  A Lobbyist may request withdrawal of a Termination if Lobbying Activities will resume during the biennial registration cycle.

Once the Termination is 'withdrawn' (rejected), an Amended Lobbyist Statement of Registration form must be completed and filed within 10 days of the change, and include a 'new' written agreement or written authorization from the Client.

Withdrawal requests must be signed and/or submitted via email by the responsible person, designated person, or registered Lobbyist.  Determination of a withdrawal request is made at the discretion of the Commission.

¬ NOTE:  No filing fee is required for a Registration Amendment provided the original Statement of Registration filing fee has already been paid for the applicable biennial period for this Client.

 

What if an additional Lobbyist terminates their relationship with the Lobbyist?

If an additional Lobbyist will no longer be a part of the lobbying effort, then a Termination for the additional Lobbyist must be completed for each Registration in which the additional Lobbyist’s name appears.  The terminated additional Lobbyist’s name will immediately be removed from the applicable Registration upon submission in the Online Filing System.  However, the terminated additional Lobbyist’s name will continue to appear on any previously submitted Filings which their name had been listed on.

Please be aware if the terminated additional Lobbyist is required to be listed on the next Bi-monthly Report, do not submit the Termination until after the Bi-monthly Report has been submitted so the additional Lobbyist’s name will appear on the Report.

The terminated additional Lobbyist’s name will also continue to appear on the list of additional Lobbyists in the Profile, unless a Profile Update is submitted to remove the additional Lobbyist’s name.  Once the additional Lobbyist name is removed from the Profile, the Lobbyist’s name will not be available for selection on any future Filings.

However, if the additional Lobbyist’s name remains on the list of additional Lobbyists in the Profile, their name will be available for selection on future Registrations.  The additional Lobbyist’s name will not be available for selection on future Bi-monthlies unless a Registration Amendment is submitted and processed.

A terminated additional Lobbyist may be re-added as an additional Lobbyist at any time by submitting a Profile Update and a Registration Amendment (or Registration Amendments) to add the Lobbyist’s name again.  However, if the additional Lobbyist’s name was not previously removed from the Profile, only a Registration Amendment needs to be submitted to re-add the Lobbyist’s name.  Please be aware the additional Lobbyist’s name will not populate to a future Bi-monthly Report until the Registration Amendment is processed.

 

RECAP – TO REMOVE ADDITIONAL LOBBYIST:

  1. Submit a Termination for each Registration in which the additional Lobbyist’s name appears (making sure to only submit the Termination after submission of any Bi-monthly Report in which the additional Lobbyist must be listed).
  2. Submit a Profile Update to remove the additional Lobbyist’s name.

 

RECAP – TO ADD BACK AN ADDITIONAL LOBBYIST:

  1. Submit a Profile Update to add the additional Lobbyist’s name (if it had been previously removed from the Profile).
  2. Submit a Registration Amendment (or Amendments) to add the additional Lobbyist’s name.

NOTE:  This may also require submission of an amended agreement/authorization.

Guide to Lobbying Reporting

Lobbyist Forms

Sample Letters to Aid Filers

DISCLAIMER

The following sample letters are provided and intended to aid the lobbying community. They 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.

Sample Letters

  •  

    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).

     

    Download

Additional Informational Resources

  •  

    FAQs: Land use and Lobbying for Engineers and Architects

    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. 

     

    Download

  •  

    FAQs: 2016 Source of Funding Amendments

    Lobbyists (who lobby on their own behalf) and Clients, who devote substantial resources to Lobbying activity in NYS, are required to make publicly available each Source of Funding over a certain limit for such lobbying.

     

    Download

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.

 

Contact us by phone:
Main Line  518-408-3976
Helpdesk  518-474-3973
Contact us by email:
Mailing Address:

New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics

540 Broadway

Albany, New York 12207