A law firm requests our Commission to advise whether or not they are subject to the Regulation of Lobbying Act if they may render advice to their clients regarding proposed legislation affecting their client's business activities. The firm was asked to draft "model" legislation or amendments to the proposed legislation. Some of their clients belong to trade associations and on occasion the clients may discuss with association officials or employees the law firm's advice or distribute the law firm's drafts or opinions to them. On occasion, the law firm may be asked by a client to attend a trade association meeting or they may communicate with the association's registered lobbyists to express the client's view on proposed legislation.
We are asked to assume that some of the proposed legislation would be introduced and passed by the legislature. The client would then request the law firm to directly communicate with the Governor's office to urge the veto of the bill by the Governor.
There are three questions presented to our Commission:
1) Whether under the Regulation of Lobbying Act of 1977 (Act), the activities by the law firm or their clients require the filing of a Statement of Registration, Periodic Reports, or an Annual Report by the law firm.
2) Whether the law firm's communications with the Governor's office on behalf of their clients, constitute "lobbying activity" and requires the following of a Statement of Registration, Periodic Reports, and Annual Report.
3) Whether the client is required to file an Annual Report on the facts stated.
Answer to Question #1: The activities of the law firm which relate to proposed legislation are exempt from the Act and they would not be required to file a Statement of Registration, Periodic Report, or Annual Report on the facts submitted. Action with respect to proposed but non-existent legislation usually is not lobbying. Unless there are activities which clearly constitute an attempt to influence the passage, delay, or defeat of actual legislation by the Legislature, the facts described would not constitute lobbying activity and is not prohibited by statute. (Sec. 3(a)(b) of the Act and Section III(A) of the Commission's Guidelines).
Answer to Question #2: Section 12(a)(1) of the Act states: "The provisions of this act shall not apply to: Persons engaged in drafting of legislation, rules, regulations, or rates, advising clients and rendering opinions on proposed legislation, rules, regulations, or rates, where such professional services are not otherwise connected with legislative or executive action on such legislation, or administrative action on such rules, regulations, or rates"; (similarly see also Section VIII of the Commission's Guidelines).
We deem communications with the Governor's office in connection with legislation as an attempt to defeat, delay, or influence the pending legislation. Accordingly, we are of the opinion that such action falls within the prohibition of the statute as "lobbying activity" under Section 3(b) of the Act, if the $1000 threshold is met. Under such circumstances both the lobbyist and the client must comply with the respective requirements of filing the Statement of Registration and the Periodic Quarterly and Annual Reports.
Answer to Question #3: The client is not required to file an Annual Report on the facts submitted that relate to proposed legislation but would be required to file an Annual Report on the facts submitted that relate to communications with the Governor's office if the $1000 threshold of "reportable expenditures" is met. (Section 3(b) and 10(a)(3) of the Act; Sections V and VI(D) of the Commission's Guidelines.).
APPROVED BY COMMISSION: October 6, 1978
CONCURRING: CHAIRMAN S. STANLEY KREUTZER, VICE CHAIRMAN OWEN McGIVERN, MARGARET C. ANDRONACO, D. CLINTON DOMINICK, DANIEL GUTMAN, and DAVID C. TAIT./S/