Definition

Grass roots lobbying is defined as a program addressed to the general public, a substantial portion of which is intended, designed or calculated primarily to influence state legislation.

Typical grass roots lobbying expenditures include:

  • newspaper advertisements to support proposed legislation,
  • hiring a person to organize public meetings in order to influence action on issues being considered by the legislature,
  • creating or maintaining websites, purchasing e-mail lists, or hiring someone to conduct other online activities, and
  • hiring signature gatherers to circulate petitions for an initiative to the legislature.

Disclosure

Sponsor Requirement

Any person or entity making grass roots lobbying expenditures not reported by a registered lobbyist, a candidate, or a political committee exceeding $700 in the aggregate in a one-month period or exceeding $1,400 in the aggregate in any three-month period must file a grass roots lobbying report.  Exception:  If an organization sends a notice about pending legislation to its members, or a corporation sends a similar message to its stockholders, the expenses related to these activities are not reportable as grass roots lobbying.

The initial grass roots lobbying report (PDC Form L-6) must be filed within 30 days of becoming a sponsor of a grass roots lobbying campaign.  Thereafter, sponsors file monthly reports on the 10th of the month covering the preceding calendar month.  When the campaign is finished and the last report is being filed, check the final report box.

Alternative Disclosure Methods

Lobbyists can relieve their employers from the responsibility of filing an L-6 report by including grass roots lobbying expenditures on their L-2 reports, provided that the grass roots campaign is financed out of the employer’s existing funds.  If the employer conducts a special fundraising effort or accepts funds from other sources to finance the grass roots lobbying, L-6 reporting is required (and expenses would not be included on the L-2).

Note that even if a lobbyist employer files an L-6 report covering grass roots lobbying activities, a lobbyist must still disclose on his or her L-2 any of his or her employer’s lobbying-related expenditures for public relations, telemarketing or polling activities.  

Candidates and political committees who sponsor grass roots lobbying campaigns do not need to file L-6 reports, whether they use existing funds or receive funds from outside sources.  Instead, the contribution and expenditure activity, including that related to grass roots lobbying, is fully reported on their campaign disclosure reports (the “C” series)