Office of the City Clerk Office of the City Clerk
Advisory Opinions

ADVISORY OPINION 1988-3
FACTS

In January, May and October of Year One, a public relations firm filed a total of six lobbyist statements of registration with the City Clerk. Each of the six statements pertained to a different client. In January of Year Two, the firm continued to be retained to engage in lobbying activity by the six clients for whom the firm filed registration statements in the previous year. Pursuant to each retainer agreement between the firm and each of those clients, the firm was compensated at a set fee per month for services that included lobbying. None of the retainer agreements had an expiration date. The firm now wishes to know whether it is required to file six new registration statements in Year Two, accompanied by new copies of retainer agreements and client authorizations, regarding the six clients for whom it had already submitted the six registration statements in Year One.

ISSUE
Is a lobbyist registration statement, filed pursuant to the Lobbying Law (Administrative Code §3-211 et seq.), a one-time registration that remains in effect until the relationship between the lobbyist and client has terminated, or must the lobbyist annually file new registration statements relating to each client?

OPINION
Section 3-213 of the New York City Administrative Code contains the provisions regarding statements of registration by lobbyists. Administrative Code section 3-213(a)(1) states:

Every lobbyist shall annually file with the city clerk, on forms prescribed by 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 purpose of lobbying. (Emphasis added.)

Section 3-213(a)(2) states that the registration statement

shall be completed on or before January first by those persons who have been retained, employed or designated as lobbyists on or before December fifteenth of the previous calendar year who reasonably anticipate that in the incoming year they will expend, incur or receive combined reportable compensation and expenses in an amount in excess of two thousand dollars…

The plain language contained in section 3-213(a)(1) that "every lobbyist shall annually file... a statement of registration for each calendar year" clearly indicates that the lobbyist statement of registration is not a one-time registration that survives until the lobbyist ceases to represent the client, but rather that the registration is for the calendar year only. Accordingly, this office requires that a new statement of registration be submitted each calendar year. Furthermore, the language of §3-213(a)(2) indicates that statements of registration remain in effect only during the calendar year in which they were filed, not for a one-year period from the date on which the statement was filed.

According to a procedure established by this office, where a lobbyist-client agreement was registered by lobbyist in a given calendar year, and such agreement will remain in effect for part or all of the upcoming calendar year, a lobbyist can satisfy the requirements of §3-213(c)(3) and 3-213(c)(4) (which list those documents required to be submitted with the statement of registration) by attaching to the new statement of registration the following: a photocopy of the previously-registered written retainer agreement or oral agreement summary; a photocopy of the previously-registered client authorization letter; and a letter signed by both the lobbyist and the client stating that the agreement and the authorization remain fully in effect, without any modifications or additions. If at any point in the new calendar year the lobbyist-client agreement is in any way modified or extended, the lobbyist, pursuant to §3-213(d), must file, within ten days of such change(s), a copy of the altered agreement and must indicate all changes on the form entitled "Amendment/Supplement to Lobbyist Statement of Registration" which may be obtained from the City Clerk's Office. As §3-213 states:

[w]henever there is a change in the information filed by the lobbyist in the original statement of registration, an amended statement shall be submitted to the city clerk on forms supplied by the city clerk within ten days after such change occurs; however, this shall not require the lobbyist to amend the entire registration form.
In summary, if a lobbyist anticipates on or before December 15 of a given year that he or she will expend, receive or incur a cumulative total of $2,000 dollars or more for lobbying during the next calendar year, the lobbyist must submit a lobbyist statement of registration by January first of the upcoming year for each and every client that employs, retains or designates the lobbyist. This requirement applies regardless of whether the lobbyist filed a registration for a particular client in the previous year.

CARLOS CUEVAS City Clerk and Clerk of the Council
KATHERINE E. TIMON General Counsel
WILLIAM THYMIUS Deputy General Counsel
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