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ADVISORY OPINION 1987-13
FACTS

A firm is retained by numerous clients to engage in "lobbying" or "lobbying activities" as defined by section 3-211(c)(1) of Local Law 14 of 1986. From most of its clients the firm anticipates receiving $2000 or more in compensation for the coming year for the purpose of lobbying. However from some of its clients, the firm anticipates receiving less than $2000 in compensation in the coming year for the purpose of lobbying. Also, the firm represents pro bono publico, various institutions and organizations where the firm anticipates receiving no compensation for lobbying purposes.

ISSUE
If a firm anticipates that in the coming year it will expend, receive or incur $2000 or more in combined reportable compensation for the purpose of lobbying, must the firm file with the City Clerk Lobbyist Registration Statements and Lobbyist Periodic Reports on behalf of clients from whom the firm will receive less than $2000 in compensation for lobbying, and from those clients from whom the firm will receive no compensation for lobbying?

OPINION

New York Code Administrative Code Chapter 3 subchapter 3-213(a)(1)

States:  

[e]very lobbyist shall file with the City Clerk . . . a statement of registration for each calendar year; provided however, that the filing of such statement of registration shall not be required of any lobbyist who in any year does not expend, incur, or receive an amount in excess of two thousand dollars of reportable compensation and expenses… for the purposes of lobbying.

Furthermore, section 3-213(a)(2) states that:

Such filing shall be completed…by those persons who have been retained, employed, or designated as lobbyists…who reasonably anticipate that in the coming year they will expend, incur or receive combined reportable compensation and expenses in an amount in excess of two thousand dollars.

In summary, a person and or a firm designated as a lobbyist must file a Lobbyist Statement of Registration with the City Clerk, if the lobbyist anticipates that they will expend, incur or receive $2000 or more in total compensation and expenses for the purpose of lobbying.

In analyzing the above described sections of the lobbying law, it is clear that the $2,000 threshold applies to lobbying activity cumulatively and not per client. There is no mention in the statute that a lobbyist must reasonably anticipate they will receive combined reportable compensation in excess of $2,000 per client. In other words, any lobbyist receiving a total of $2,000 or more in compensation for lobbying for the year, must file a registration statement for each and every client the lobbyist lobbies on behalf of.

Therefore, if a lobbyist anticipates expending, receiving, or incurring a cumulative total of $2,000 or more in reportable compensation for the purpose of lobbying, the lobbyist must file a Lobbyist Statement of Registration for every client the lobbyist lobbies for, regardless of the amount of compensation received from any one client.

With regard to Lobbyist Periodic Reports, Section 3-216 of the Lobbying law sets forth the requirements for filing Periodic Reports. Specifically, section 3-216(a)(1) sets forth when the Periodic Report must be filed. This section states:

Any lobbyist required to file a statement of registration pursuant to section 3-213... who in any lobbying year expends, receives or incurs combined reportable compensation and expenses in an amount in excess of two thousand dollars… for the purpose of lobbying, shall file with the city clerk a first periodic written report… by the fifteenth day next succeeding the end of the reporting period on which the cumulative total (emphasis added) for such lobbying year equaled such sum.

In summary, the above section of the Lobbying Law requires a registered lobbyist to file the first periodic reports for all clients registered, for the quarter in which the cumulative total of compensation and expenses the lobbyist receives for lobbying is $2,000 or more. The language of this section specifically states the $2,000 threshold is cumulative and not per client.

Therefore, for the quarter in which a lobbyist expends, receives or incurs a cumulative total of $2,000 or more in compensation and expenses for lobbying, the lobbyist must file lobbyist periodic reports for all clients registered, regardless of the amount of compensation received from any one client. In other words, regardless of whether the lobbyist received less than $2,000 from a client or received no compensation from a client for lobbying, he or she files a periodic report for all clients when the $2000 threshold is met.

CONCLUSION
It is the determination of the City Clerk that if a person or firm designated as a lobbyist, anticipates expending, incurring, or receiving a cumulative total of $2.000 or more for lobbying purposes, the lobbyist must file with this office lobbyist registration statements for each and every client the lobbyist is retained to lobby on behalf of, regardless of the amount of compensation received from any one client.

Also, it is the determination of the City Clerk that a lobbyist registered with this office must file the first lobbyist periodic reports for every client registered, for the quarter in which the cumulative total of compensation and expenses expended, received or incurred for lobbying is $2,000 or more.

CARLOS CUEVAS City Clerk of the City of New York
KATHERINE E. TIMON Counsel
TIMOTHY J. McFARLAND Assistant Counsel

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