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Synopsis of Advisory Opinions (1987-1991)

Please click on the desired advisory opinion to display the complete advisory opinion

Advisory Opinion 1987-1
Issue:
Compensation to be paid to salaried employees for lobbying activities is indeterminate.

Res.:
The formula to be used in ascertaining a salaried employee’s proportionate share of salary attributable to lobbying is:

Salary Attributable to Lobbying = Hours Attributable to Lobbying for the Quarter X Salary for the Quarter
Total Hours Worked

Advisory Opinion 1987-2
Issue:
Activity is not considered lobbying when dealing with "simply monitoring or remaining aware of legislative activity of the City Council, providing analysis of proposed legislation and assisting in preparing comments and testimony on proposed legislation without using any information thereby to attempt to influence the outcome of any legislative action on the proposed legislation."

Res.:
Those who engage in such activities are not deemed to be engaged in "lobbying" or "lobbying activity."

Advisory Opinion 1987-3
Issues:

  1. A federal tax exempt, not-for-profit organization required to file a Lobbyist Statement of Registration with the City Clerk’s Office, may or may not be forced to recognize lobbying expenditures, which could jeopardize the organization’s status as 'tax exempt.'

  2. A housing development fund may be in violation of its certificate of incorporation, if it is required to file a Lobbyist Statement of Registration with the Office of the City Clerk.

Res.:

  1. A federal tax exempt, not-for-profit organization will have its tax exempt status affected if it engages in "lobbying" or "lobbying activities." The issue of an organization exposing itself to an assessment of tax liability and losing its tax exempt status, should be addressed by the Internal Revenue Service.

  2. If a housing development fund company organized under N.Y.S. Not-For-Profit Corporation Law is engaging in "lobbying" or "lobbying activities," and if expenses and compensation supersede two thousand dollars ($2,000.00), then the organization must file a Lobbyist Statement of Registration with the Office of the City Clerk.

Advisory Opinion 1987-4
Issues:
Does the representation of clients in regard to the designation of historic districts, landmark structures or sites before the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), constitute "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

Res.:
The landmark designation process before the Landmarks Preservation Commission is non-adjudicatory and efforts to influence the process are "lobbying" or "lobbying activities."

Advisory Opinion 1987-5
Issues:

  1. Does the representation of client in regard to the issuance by the Landmark Preservation Commission, of post-designation permits, constitute "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

    1. Does representation of an owner of a building (landmark) who requests application by the LPC to the City Planning Commission for a special permit to modify use and bulk Regulations, constitute "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

    2. Does the representation of a client who requests the LPC to issue a report to the City Planning Commission for a special permit for transfer of development rights, constitute "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

Res.:

  1. All post-designation permit proceeding before the LPC are adjudicatory and attempts to influence these proceedings are not "lobbying" or "lobbying activity."

  2. The LPC’s role in the special permit process is non-adjudicatory; thus, those who seek the LPC’s participation in the special permit process are engaged in "lobbying" or "lobbying activities" and must, therefore, register as lobbyists with the Office of the City Clerk.

Advisory Opinion 1987-6
Issues:

  1. Is the representation of a client in a Tax Certiorari Protest Proceeding before the Tax Commission, "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

  2. Is the representation of a client in an application to the Tax Commission, for a review of a denial by the Department of Finance of a tax exemption from real property taxes, "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

Res.:
A Tax Certiorari Protest Proceeding and tax exempt determination before the Tax Commission, are adjudicatory proceedings and are not "lobbying" or "lobbying activities." Those who practice before the Tax Commission are not required to register as lobbyists with the City Clerk’s Office.

Advisory Opinion 1987-7
Issues:
Do appearances before local community boards, constitute "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

Res.:
Because of the unrestricted nature of the community boards proceedings, appearance before and other attempts to influence community boards are non-adjudicatory. Thus, all efforts to influence the determination of community boards are "lobbying" or "lobbying activities," and those who engage, must register as lobbyists with the Office of the City Clerk.

Advisory Opinion 1987-8
Issues:

  1. Is the representation of a client in an application for a zoning variance before the Board of Standards and Appeals "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

  2. Is the representation of the client in an application for a special permit before the Board of Standards and Appeals, "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

Res.:
Special permit and zoning variance application proceedings at the Board of Standards and Appeals are adjudicatory in nature; thus, those who represent applicants in these proceeding, are not required to register as lobbyists with the City Clerk’s Office.

Advisory Opinion 1987-9
Issue:
Does the representation of client who applies to the N.Y.C. Art Commission for approval of a piece of art work to be placed on public property, constitute "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

Res.:
Since the charter provides no explicit standards which govern the Art Commission’s determinations and no individual "rights" are being determined, determinations by the Art Commission are non-adjudicatory; therefore, those who attempt to influence determinations of the Art Commission (except those involving newsstand designs), must register as lobbyists with City Clerk’s Office.

Advisory Opinion 1987-10
Issue:
Is the representation of clients who favor or oppose the conversion of commercial and manufacturing loft buildings to residential use before the New York City Loft Board, "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

Res.:
The representation of those who favor or oppose the conversion of commercial and manufacturing loft buildings to residential use before the Loft Board does not constitute "lobbying" or "lobbying activity". However, those who attempt to influence the Loft Board to promulgate rules and regulations necessary for the implementation of Article 7-C, are "lobbying."

Advisory Opinion 1987-11
Issues:

  1. Does the representation of clients who favor or oppose grant of a zoning special permit before the City Planning Commission, constitute "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

  2. Does the representation of clients who favor or oppose a modification of the zoning resolution, constitute "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

Res.:
The application process for special permits considered by the City Planning Commission (CPC), while triggered by an individual property owner, is subject to the exercise of broad discretion by the CPC and the Board of Estimate, in addition to being open to the public. For this reason, special permit uses considered by the CPC, are non-adjudicatory; thus, the efforts to influence these proceeding are "lobbying" or "lobbying activities."

Advisory Opinion 1987-12
Issue:
Must persons who appear before community boards, or who in some manner, seek to influence the determination, decision, recommendation or opinion of the community board in connection with a special permit or variance application before the Board of Standards and Appeals, register as lobbyists?

Res.:
Although the special permit and variance proceedings before the Board of Standards and Appeals is adjudicatory in nature, the efforts to influence the outcome of a determination, opinion, decision or recommendation of a community board is lobbying; thus, those who engage in such practice, must register as lobbyists with the City Clerk’s Office.

Advisory Opinion 1987-13
Issue:
If a firm anticipates that in the coming year it will expend, receive or occur $2,000.00 or more in combined reportable compensation for the purpose of lobbying, must the firm file with the Office of the City Clerk, Lobbyist Statements of Registrations and Lobbyist Periodic Reports on behalf of clients from whom the firm will receive less than $2,000.00 in compensation for lobbying, and from those clients from whom the firm will receive no compensation for lobbying?

Res.:
If a lobbyist anticipates expending, receiving or incurring a cumulative total of $2,000.000 or more in reportable compensation for the purpose of lobbying, the lobbyist must file a Statement of Registration for every client the lobbyist lobbies for, regardless of the amount of compensation received from any one client; thus, a lobbyist must register with the City Clerk’s Office on behalf of all clients. Also, a registered lobbyist 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 is $2,000.00 or more.

Advisory Opinion 1987-14
Issue:
Are efforts to influence the determinations, decisions, or recommendations of the City Planning Commission (CPC) in an application to amend the zoning resolution, its maps, and the city map, "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

Res.:
Amendments to the zoning resolution, its maps or to the city map, in certain instances, may affect only the property owner: however, they may have a direct impact on a larger community. Also, the zoning amendment process requires a public hearing with participation open to the public. Following these reasons, this process is non-adjudicatory and efforts to influence the recommendations, decisions or determinations of the CPC in proceedings to amend the zoning resolution, its maps and the city map, are "lobbying" or "lobbying activities."

Advisory Opinion 1987-15
Issue:
Where a client has retained a principal lobbyist, are employees of the client, who engage in lobbying on behalf of their employers on matters for which the principal lobbyist is retained, required to file a separate Lobbyist Statement of Registration?

Res.:
If an employee of a person or organization that has retained a registered lobbyist engages in lobbying and anticipates, or does expend, receive or incur $2,000.00 or more in combined reportable compensation and expenses for lobbying, the employee must file a Lobbyist Statement of Registration with the City Clerk’s Office; however, if this same employee does not anticipate, or will not expend, receive or incur $2,000.00 in combined reportable compensation and expenses for lobbying, the employee’s lobbying activity must be reported on the employer’s Client Annual Report.

Advisory Opinion 1987-16
Issue:
Does the prohibition on lobbying for a contingent fee apply to lobbying agreements for work to be performed after the effective date where such agreements were entered into before that date?

Res.:
Administrative Code section 3-218, prohibits all lobbying contracts for a contingent fee performed on or after December 1, 1986, regardless of when the contract to perform those services was entered into; thus, it is applicable.

Advisory Opinion 1987 -17
Issue:
Which city employees and/ or officials should be reported on the Lobbyist Periodic and Annual Report?

Res.:
The Lobbyist Periodic and the Annual Report must include the names of the decision-maker, staff of the decision-maker whom authority to decide has been delegated, and staff members upon whom the decision-maker relies for substantive output. Also, the lobbyist must report and disclose the identity of any other city official or employee present at the public meeting, whom the lobbyist has attempted to influence.

Advisory Opinion 1988-1
Issues:

  1. How are salaries of employees of the principal lobbyist to be reported by the lobbyist?

  2. How are salaries of the support staff of the principal lobbyist to be reported by the lobbyist?

  3. What is the scope of the exception related to the drafting of and the giving of advice and opinions on certain proposals?

  4. When must expenses for printing, reproduction and mailing of written material be reported?

Res.:

  1. The principal lobbyist must report on the Periodic and Annual Report forms the names of associates and other employees who engage in lobbying and that portion of their salaries attributable to lobbying. Also, the cases in which the principal lobbyist is an employee of the client should be differentiated from those who are not employees of their clients.

  2. The salaries of persons who serve to aid a lobbyist, but who do not engage in substantive aspects of lobbying activity such as, attending policy meetings or the drafting of substantive portions of documents, must be reported; however, these salaries need only be reported in the aggregate form.

  3. The exception refers to legislation or resolutions that have not been introduced, and to rules, regulations or rates not yet submitted to the appropriated agencies for review or comment. Once a proposal is submitted, a person is considered "lobbying" unless that person engages in activities that restrict himself or herself to only these activities, without otherwise engaging in an attempt to influence the government or agencies outlined in section 3- 211(c) (2) (1) of the Administrative Code.

  4. The expenses for printing, reproduction and mailing of written materials must be reported in the periodic report, as well as, annual report if: Such expenses are for the purpose of lobbying; the five hundred dollar limit has been exceeded; and the activities in which these expenses are incurred, are deemed "lobbying activities."

Advisory Opinion 1988-2
Issue:
In accordance with the lobbying law, may a client designate his or her lobbyist to prepare, file, and/or certify to the truth of the contents of the Client Annual Report?

Res.:
While nothing in the lobbying law mandates who shall prepare the Client Annual Report, it specifically directs that the client must file the report; thus, the client may not designate the lobbyist to file or certify to the truth of the contents of the report.

Advisory Opinion 1988-3
Issue:
Is a Lobbyist Registration Statement, filed pursuant to the lobbying law, a one-time registration effective until the relationship between the client and lobbyist has been terminated, or is it an annual requirement?

Res.:
Sec. 3-213(a) (1) states that "every lobbyist shall annually file … a Lobbyist Statement of Registration for each calendar year." Also, the agreement will remain in effect for the remainder of the calendar year in which it is filed, not for a one-year period following the actual filing of the statement: thus, a lobbyist registration statement must be filed annually.

Advisory Opinion 1988-4
Issues:
What is the difference between a concession agreement and a lease?

Res.:
Whether a specific agreement constitutes a "concession agreement" must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Advisory Opinion 1988-5
Issue:
Does an attempt to influence the N.Y.C. Department of Cultural Affairs through activities relating to an application for a public service contract, undertaken on behalf of a cultural organization, constitute "lobbying"?

Res.:
The attempt to influence the N.Y.C. Department of Cultural Affairs relating to an application for a public service contract, is not an attempt to influence; thus, the attorney’s efforts are not considered "lobbying."

Advisory Opinion 1989-1
Issue:
A law firm inquires whether a request to the N.Y.C. Department of Buildings for interpretations of existing provision of the zoning resolution and their applicability to proposed development, constituted "lobbying"?

Res.:
A request on behalf of client for an interpretation of an agency, board or commission, regarding an existing provision of law and its application to either an existing set of circumstances or a proposed situation, thing or event, does not constitute "lobbying"; thus, these request are not considered "lobbying."

Advisory Opinion 1989-2
Issues:
Do the following constitute "lobbying" or "lobbying activities"?

  1. A manufacturing company retains a law firm to provide legal representation, which may include requesting interpretations of rules, regulation and procedures governing those programs from the responsible agency.

  2. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) has published proposed regulation governing partial tax exemptions and has solicited public comment thereon. A firm, representing clients who have applied for benefits under this proposal, desires to respond to this request even though the comment will not be made on behalf of any one client.

  3. A law firm seeks to modify the rules promulgated by the Department of Finance for the industrial and commercial incentive program. Although the firm represents clients who seek benefits under this program, it will not seek changes on behalf of any one client.

Res.:

  1. Merely requesting interpretations of rules, regulations and procedures relating to a program from the city agency responsible for the program, in connection with legal representation of a client applying for benefits under the program, is not "lobbying."

  2. A response to any agency’s request for public comment on proposed regulations on does not constitute "lobbying" regardless of whether the response is on behalf of a particular client.

  3. Although the firm is not acting on behalf of any one client, the actual effort to modify existing rules or regulations, constitutes "lobbying": thus, the firm’s actions can be considered "lobbying activity."

Advisory Opinion 1990-1
Issue:
Is the targeting of specific legislation by a campaign designed to stimulate communications to elected officials, considered "indirect lobbying" under the law?

Res.:
An organization’s indirect attempts to influence government decision-making is subject to the lobbying law, where it involves specific legislation; thus, this type of action is considered "lobbying."

Advisory Opinion 1991-1
Issue:
A law firm inquires whether the renewal of a previously approved City Planning Commission special permit constitutes "lobbying" or "lobbying activity"?

Res.:
In practice, negotiation over projects needing special permits or the renewal of a special permit, involve activities commonly associated with lobbying. Accordingly, an attempt to influence the renewal by the CPC, is considered a non-adjudicatory activity and is considered "lobbying activity."

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