TO: State and Local Government Agencies
FROM: Doug Ellis, Director of Public Outreach
DATE: December 14, 2004
SUBJECT: Lobbying by Public Agencies
As you no doubt are aware, state and local agencies
that lobby the State Legislature (and local agencies that lobby state agencies)
must file quarterly L-5 reports with the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) showing
the costs associated with this activity. The L-5 disclosing reportable lobbying
expenditures incurred during October through December, 2004, must be mailed or hand-carried
to PDC by Monday, January 31, 2005.
The instruction manual and blank forms covering
public agency lobbying can be accessed on our web site at www.pdc.wa.gov under Filer Assistance.
Please note that the statute governing lobbying
by state and local agencies is very restrictive. In fact, the law prohibits using
public funds directly or indirectly to influence the passage or defeat of legislation
(including any matter that may be the subject of action before the legislature),
unless express authority exists elsewhere in law or unless the lobbying activity
is restricted to:
Communicating with legislators at the member's
Requesting necessary legislative action or
appropriations through proper official channels;
Providing information to legislators or staff
on matters pertaining to official agency business; or
Advocating the official position or interests
of the agency.
These restrictions mean that public funds may
not be used for grass roots lobbying or any other method of indirect lobbying.
The law also prohibits spending public funds as
a direct or indirect gift or campaign contribution to any elected official or officer
or employee of any agency. The applicable statutory definition of gift is very broad
and includes food, beverages or entertainment.
If you have questions, please contact me or call
a political finance specialist at (360) 753-1111 or toll free 1-877-601-2828.