The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (“Commission”) today has released a staff proposal of comprehensive lobbying regulations, the first time in New York that such comprehensive regulation of lobbying has been presented in this form. The regulations will provide a “one-stop shop” for the rules and requirements associated with engaging in lobbying in New York.
Designed to close loopholes that have evolved in lobbying, the regulations will capture more information about the targets of lobbying activities and the real clients of lobbyists, not just the nominal third parties and intermediaries who contract with the lobbyists. The regulations take into account the use of ever-changing technology in conducting lobbying campaigns. They also streamline reporting requirements, providing more clarity about the requirements related to consultants, grassroots lobbying, sources of funding, and the use of new media for lobbying purposes.
“More than $240 million was spent in 2015 on lobbying to influence New York’s decision makers,” said Commission Executive Director Seth H. Agata. “These regulations will ensure that the public has access to more and better information about the people and entities behind those attempts at influencing decisions that can affect us all.”
The agency seeks public comment on this draft proposal in advance of consideration by the full Commission and plans to hold a public hearing, to be announced at a later date, to provide a full and open dialogue with lobbyists and other professionals in the field, good government groups, and the general public. Ultimately, the Commission may commence a formal rulemaking process during which further public comment will be solicited.
“We want to hear from as many voices as possible to ensure that these regulations are clear, that the lobbying community knows what will be expected of them, and that the public will be served by the transparency they will engender,” said Agata.
This draft proposal is the product of months of work by Commission staff in which they examined existing guidelines and decades of advisory opinions of the Commission and its predecessor agencies.
Written comments to the staff draft are due on before November 21, 2016 and should be directed to Martin Levine, Director of Lobbying at [email protected].