It is not unusual for businesses and organizations to assign one of their regular employees the task of lobbying. Registration and reporting by these lobbyists are required. On the L-2, an employee lobbyist will prorate his or her gross pay according to the amount of time spent lobbying in order to arrive at the amount of compensation for lobbying that is required to be reported. Some months may show little or no activity, others may reflect nearly full-time lobbying work.
A person who provides lobbying services on a contract basis is a contract lobbyist. These lobbyists are not employees of the client-employers on whose behalf they work. Contract lobbyists may have one or more lobbying employers. These lobbyists may receive a fee plus expenses or simply a flat fee. Contract lobbyists must register and report for all employers, unless activity for a given employer falls within one of the exemptions. Contract lobbyists may also be consultants, public relations experts or the like. Payments received for non-lobbying related activity are not reportable.
A lobbyist – usually a contract lobbyist – may decide to subcontract out some of his or her lobbying duties to another lobbyist. The latter is the subcontract lobbyist. The principal lobbyist is the lobbyist employer. Both must register and report.
The principal lobbyist discloses payments to the subcontractor on the L-2.
File the L-1 listing the principal lobbyist as the employer. In the Remarks section, name the clients for whom you will lobby. The subcontractor will file monthly L-2 reports disclosing any payments received from the principal lobbyist and any expenditure made
Some businesses are formed strictly to provide lobbying services to clients. Other law firms, public relations firms and consultant businesses provide lobbying services as part of their overall package of services. For registration and reporting purposes, each is considered a lobbying firm. The lobbying firm files a registration statement for each client-employer, listing the names of the firm’s partners or employees who will conduct the actual lobbying on the L-1. The monthly L-2 report will show the amount of compensation received by the firm from each client for all lobbying services, as well as the combined expenses of the individuals who did the lobbying for that client.
Note: The firm’s partners or employees (agents) doing the actual lobbying are listed on the L-1 (these individuals do not file separate L-1 forms, although an ID page must be submitted for each). The firm is expected to file one combined L-2 report showing the compensation earned and expenditures made by all lobbying agents; if the firm fails to file accurate and timely L-2s, the responsibility rests with the agents.
This is a person who lobbies, but satisfies one of the exemptions and is not required to register or report. Occasionally, the lobbyist elects to register anyway. Volunteer lobbyists who choose to register and report should note their status in the “Remarks” section of the L-1 form, so it is clear that this is a voluntary registration and no monthly L-2 reports are required. Monthly expense reports will be required unless the registration is marked “volunteer.”
Note: Exempt from registering and reporting; if lobbyist chooses to register, add “volunteer” in the Remarks section so that you will not be required to file monthly L-2 reports.
One type of unsalaried lobbyist is a person who lobbies without compensation except for reimbursement of travel and personal expenses. It would not be unusual for a neighborhood association or other locally-based citizens group to have such a lobbyist.
This unsalaried lobbyist is required to register but does not need to file monthly L-2 reports if the payments received are for non-reportable expenses. If no reportable expenses will be made, note that fact in the “Remarks” section and also state that no L-2 reports will be filed. Otherwise, monthly expense reports are required.
If an unsalaried lobbyist plans on making reportable expenses – for things such as gifts, entertainment, contributions or providing travel for legislators or other state employees – the lobbyist must register and file monthly L-2 reports, even though many of the reports may show zero expenditure activity.
Another type of unsalaried lobbyists are people who take vacation or leave time from their jobs to lobby and are only reimbursed for lobbying-related expenses by the group or organization on whose behalf they lobby. Persons who receive compensation for the time they spend lobbying – meaning they lobby on company time but do not receive special or premium pay for the time spent lobbying – are, in fact, being paid to lobby and are considered salaried or paid lobbyists.
Note: Many unsalaried lobbyists need to register because they received “other consideration” for lobbying; if no reportable expenditures will be made, however, they do not need to file L-2 reports as long as they state in the Remarks section, “no reportable expenses."
This is a lobbyist who will be pursuing his or her own agenda with the legislature or state agencies. There is no “employer of lobbyist.” The lobbyist is working on his or her own behalf. Frequently, self-employed lobbyists fall under one of the exemptions outlined above. However, if the lobbyist is not exempt (because, for example, he or she spends money to entertain a legislator), then he or she must register, showing him or herself as the lobbyist employer. If the person makes or plans to make reportable expenses, then monthly L-2 filing is also required.
If a person lobbies on behalf of one’s own business then the person registers and reports as a lobbyist showing the business as the lobbyist employer. That business will then file an annual L-3 lobbyist employer report.
L-1, L-2, L-3
Note: If a self-employed lobbyist will not make reportable lobbying expenditures (e.g., contributions or entertainment expenses), no registration or reporting is required. Those who choose to register should add "volunteer" in the Remarks section to relieve themselves of having to file monthly expenditure reports.
Persons who limit their lobbying to no more than four days (or parts of four days) in three consecutive months and who spend no more than $35 in the aggregate on one or more public officials or employees during those three months are casual lobbyists. Frequently, these are the in-house specialists (actual employees of the lobbyist employer) who visit with legislators or other officials to lend their particular expertise to the discussion. Casual lobbyists do not need to register or report. (Casual lobbyists are advised to keep track of the time they spend lobbying and any expenditures they make in the event they end up registering and reporting because they are about to exceed the four-day limit. Note that any fraction of time spent lobbying on a given day counts as one of the four days.)
This is a person who, out of personal interest or for college credit, wants to learn the lobbying ropes. Generally, no or minimal payment is received and, whatever payment is received, comes from the lobbyist who agrees to tutor the intern and not from the lobbyist employer.
An intern whose only activities are to monitor legislation, keep vote tallies, and/or observe hearings and floor debate does not register and report. However, if an intern receives compensation or other consideration for actual lobbying, the intern must register showing the principal lobbyist as the employer. Both the intern and the principal lobbyist will file monthly L-2 reports. If the intern is paid for lobbying, the principal lobbyist will report these payments on the L-2.
Many state and local governmental agencies designate one or more employees of the agency as their lobbyists. These employees are not required to register and report on L-1 and L-2 forms. Instead, public agencies file quarterly reports (on PDC Form L-5) if they engage in reportable lobbying activity.
Some public agencies contract with private sector lobbyists. These contract lobbyists must register on the L-1 form and file L-2 reports for these public agency employers. The agencies do not file an annual Employer’s Lobbying Expenses Report (Form L-3), but rather include payments to or on behalf of the contract lobbyists on their quarterly L-5 reports.
L-5 (A quarterly report required from public agencies who contract for lobbying services or whose employees lobby on behalf of the agency.) The agency employee does not have an individual filing requirement.