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Advisory Opinions

ADVISORY OPINION 2008-1

FACTS

A partner in a law firm that is registered with the Lobbying Bureau as a lobbyist does not engage in lobbying activities. However, the partner makes a telephone call to a member of the Mayor’s administration regarding a budget issue on behalf of a party who is not a client of the firm. Neither the partner nor the firm receive compensation from the party on whose behalf the phone call was made and the partner does not have a retainer agreement with the party on whose behalf the phone call was made.

ISSUES

Does the partner or the firm have to file a statement of registration with the Lobbying Bureau listing as a client the party on whose behalf the partner made a telephone call to a member of the Mayor’s administration?

DISCUSSION

We assume for purposes of this Opinion that the telephone call regarding a budget issue constituted lobbying as defined in Administrative Code §3-211(c)(1).

Administrative Code §3-213 requires every lobbyist who in any year expends, incurs or receives an amount in excess of $2,000 of reportable compensation and expenses to file a statement of registration.

The law firm has registered with the Lobbying Bureau because it expends, incurs or receives in excess of $2,000 of reportable compensation and expenses for the purpose of lobbying.  The threshold amount of $2,000 is not client specific. If a lobbyist meets the threshold for one client, the lobbyist must file registration statements for all clients who have retained, employed or designated him or her as a lobbyist, regardless whether the lobbyist has expended, incurred or received in excess of $2,000 on their behalf. This requirement also applies to pro bono clients; a lobbyist that has filed a statement of registration is required to list any pro bono clients on whose behalf the lobbyist has been designated.

Thus, the firm would be required to list the party on whose behalf the partner made the call on its statement of registration, unless the firm’s partnership agreement allows its partners to have a separate firm or practice and to have separate earnings from such activities.

Absent such an agreement, the party would be considered a client of the firm  and would be required to be listed as a client on the firm’s statement of registration.

On the other hand, if the partnership agreement permits such outside activities, the partner would be considered a separate lobbying entity and would be required to file a statement of registration listing the party as a client only if the partner’s separate lobbying entity expends, incurs or receives in excess of $2,000 of reportable compensation and expenses for the purpose of lobbying.

CONCLUSION
When a lobbyist expends, incurs or receives in excess of $2,000 of reportable compensation and expenses, he or she must register all clients on whose behalf he or she has been retained, employed or designated, regardless whether the lobbyist expends, incurs or receives in excess of $2,000 of reportable compensation and expenses for each client. In addition, the partner who made the telephone call to the member of the Mayor’s administration should be listed as a lobbyist in filings of the law firm with the City Clerk made during the same calendar year.

 

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