Expenditures for the special lobbying activities described here are primarily disclosed by the lobbyist on his/her monthly report.  The lobbyist employer is responsible for tracking direct expenditures and relaying that information to the lobbyist at the end of each month.

Anyone planning to host a reception or entertain state officials or employees is advised to contact the Legislation Ethics Board (360) 786-7540, the Executive Ethics Board (360) 664-0871, or the Commission on Judicial Conduct (360) 753‑4585 to verify that state officials and employees may legally participate in the planned event.

Receptions

Lobbyists disclose reception costs on the L-2, lines 5 and 15.  On line 15, identify the reception date, sponsor’s name, total cost, attendees’ names, and, in some cases,* a per person cost calculated by dividing the number expected to attend into the total cost.  Additionally, if the per person food and beverage cost exceeds $50, notify elected officials and professional staff who attend so that they can fulfill their disclosure requirements.  The per person food and beverage cost is also calculated using the number of people expected to attend.

*Do I have to include a per person cost?  Effective January 11, 2015, WAC 390-20-020A eliminates the per person cost disclosure requirement and relieves attendees of disclosing food and beverage costs exceeding $50 for a reception to which the entire legislature, all members of a chamber, or any of the two largest caucuses recognized in each chamber are invited so long as the reception is:

  • Sponsored by a person other than a lobbyist [the sponsor may be a lobbyist employer],
  • Attended by individuals other than legislators, lobbyists, and lobbyist employers,
  • A social event, and
  • Does not include a sit down meal.

 Always include the list of attendees when itemizing a reception on line 15, even if the reception meets the criteria set out in WAC 390-20-020A.  Submitting the reception’s sign-in sheet is sufficient.  (Lobbyists who electronically file monthly reports may email to pdc@pdc.wa.gov an attachment, such as a sign-in sheet, and ask that it be appended to a particular report.)

Receptions hosted by an employer of multiple lobbyists:

Only the principal lobbyist for the employer will disclose the reception as explained above.

Receptions hosted by multiple lobbyist employers:

The principal lobbyist for each employer discloses the employer’s portion on lines 5 and 15.  Not all of these lobbyists are required to list the reception attendees and, when necessary, the per person cost.  Only one is required to include those details on line 15 and the others, on line 15 of their reports, will reference the lobbyist’s report that contains the attendees’ names.  If the reception does not meet the criteria explained above and the per person cost for food and beverage exceeds $50, one of the principal lobbyists must provide the food and beverage cost to elected officials and professional staff who attend.  (Calculate the food and beverage cost by dividing the full food & beverage costs by the expected number of attendees.  Use the full food & beverage costs regardless of how much each of the lobbyist employers paid.)  Each lobbyist employer who paid a portion should be listed as the “Source of Gift” on the L-2 memo report.

Reception hosted by an organization that does not employ lobbyists:

Hosting even just a one-time event intended to influence the passage or defeat of legislation will trigger the registration and disclosure requirements, unless the organization is exempt because it spends less than $35, as explained on page 3.  The principal organizer will register as the lobbyist and disclose the lobbying-related expenditures on an L-2.  The registration may be terminated once all of the lobbying-related expenditures have been disclosed and the organization is certain that it will not engage in any other lobbying through the end of the registration cycle.

Entertainment

Lobbyists disclose entertainment costs on the L-2, line 5.  If more than $50 is spent for the occasion, itemize the entertainment on line 15.  When itemizing, describe the entertainment and disclose the sponsor’s name, total cost for the occasion, and the names of who participated along with the amount spent on each.  Related costs, such as tax and tip, should be disclosed but need not be part of the per person cost.  See the Legislative Ethics Board’s Rule 5 – Infrequent Meals, effective January 1, 2015, if the entertainment includes providing a meal to a legislator.

Involving Association Members in Lobbying Effort

Some lobbyists who have associations as lobbying clients arrange to have members of the association entertain legislators from the member’s district.  For example, a contract lobbyist for the Widget Manufacturing Association arranges for an association member to take his state senator to lunch or dinner to discuss pending legislation.  The association member uses his own funds to pay for this entertainment.

If the association member spends more than $35 on this entertainment (including his own meal), this expenditure needs to be reported as a lobbying expense.  In lieu of the association member registering and reporting, the contract lobbyist may include the expense, along with an explanation, on his or her L-2 report as an “Entertainment” expense.

If the association member spends more than $50 on the legislator (or a combination of the official and the official’s family members), the contract lobbyist must also send to the official a copy of the L-2 disclosing the expense or an L-2 Memo Report.

If the contract lobbyist in this example chooses not to report the lobbying expenditures of association members, or the lobbyist was not involved in arranging the entertainment of legislators by association members and is unaware that this activity is occurring, each association member who spends more than $35 in connection with lobbying activities must register and report as a lobbyist.

If the association member is not reimbursed by the association for lobbying expenditures, the member will register as a “self-employed” lobbyist.  Monthly L-2 reports are required until he or she terminates the registration.

One-Time Group Activities (rallies, organized lobby dates, etc.)

A large group of people decides to visit Olympia to lobby on a particular issue.  For example, a delegation from a local chamber of commerce charters a bus, travels to Olympia to rally on the capitol steps, meet with legislators and host a legislative reception.  In lieu of each member of the delegation registering as a lobbyist for this brief visit, the group leader may register on an L-1 prior to the actual lobbying taking place and report the expenses of all members of the group on an L-2 form.  The L-2 is due on the 15th of the month following the one in which the lobbying occurred.  Generally, this person will terminate his or her registration on the same L-2 report that discloses the expenditures for the trip.

Field Trips and Other Excursions

Expenditures by the lobbyist or lobbyist employer for field trips or other excursions provided to elected and appointed officials must be disclosed on the L-2 report.  Notify the individuals of the cost of travel provided to them so that so that they can fulfill their annual reporting requirement.

Political Advertising Expenses

Expenditures by the lobbyist or lobbyist employer for political advertising supporting or opposing a state or local candidate or ballot measure must be disclosed on the L-2 report.  For example, if a lobbyist or lobbyist employer – alone or in conjunction with others – pays for a direct mail piece supporting a candidate, all of the lobbyist’s or employer’s costs associated with developing, producing and distributing the political ad must be reported on lines 8 and 17 of the L-2. 

Expenditures for political ads are reportable on the L-2 (in addition to any campaign reporting that is required), whether the ad constitutes an independent expenditure or qualifies as a contribution to a candidate or ballot measure committee.  However, a monetary contribution from a lobbyist or lobbyist employer to a candidate or political committee that the recipient in turn decides to spend on political advertising is not reportable by the lobbyist as a political advertising expense, but is still reportable on lines 6 and 16 as a contribution. 

Sponsors of electioneering communications or independent expenditures that support or oppose a candidate or ballot measure, are valued at $1,000 or more, and appear within 21 days of a primary, general, or special election are required to file PDC Form C-6 within 24 hours of, or on the first working day after, the date the advertisement was first published, mailed, or otherwise presented to the public.    Read more about disclosing political advertising.

Public Relations, Telemarketing and Polling Expenses

Report expenditures made by lobbyists or lobbyist employers for public relations, telemarketing, polling or similar expenses if the expenses were in any way intended, designed or calculated to influence legislation, including the adoption of any rule, rate or standard by a state agency. 

At present, PDC is relying on the following dictionary definitions: 

“Public Relations” means the methods and activities employed in persuading the public to understand and regard favorably a person, business or institution. 

“Telemarketing” means selling or advertising by telephone. 

“Polling” means to question in a survey canvass; a survey of the public or a sample of the public to record opinion or acquire information. 

The following types of expenditures are among those that are reportable if they are directly or indirectly intended, designed or calculated to influence legislation or rulemaking: 

  • expenditures for market research done in-house or through a contract with an outside vendor;
  • expenditures for the development, production and distribution of advertising to enhance the lobbyist employer's image;
  • an association's expenses to poll the general public or a segment of the general public about a matter that may be the subject of legislation;
  • costs associated with producing press releases, op-ed pieces or other articles designed to sway public opinion about possible tax increases or any change in law; and
  • costs associated with contacting editorial boards regarding the need for certain statutory changes.