The facts as presented to the Commission follow:
A tax-exempt corporation organized and operated to serve the public interest through educational and charitable activities produces papers dealing with a broad range of social issues. These papers are widely circulated among community leaders and members of the Executive and Legislative branches of the New York State government. The papers do not address specific legislation then pending nor specific rules and regulations having the force and effect of law nor rate-making proceedings. The papers do, however, often reach important conclusions which sometimes are used by others as the basis for legislation and are cited favorably by legislators and/or the Governor. Also, authors of the papers are sometimes asked by governmental officials, the press, or others to discuss these papers in public forums.
Do any of the following constitute lobbying under the Regulation of Lobbying Act?
1. The production of the paper;
2. the circulation of the paper to community and governmental leaders;
3. the discussion of the paper by its authors in public forums; or
4. the use of the paper by members of the Executive or Legislative branch of State government, but not by the tax-exempt corporation, to serve as the basis for preparing new legislation and getting it enacted into law.
Section 12(a)1 of the Regulation of Lobbying Act excepts: "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 rules, regulations, or rates..."
When opinions on social issues, such as position papers, are circulated among legislators and/or the Governor's office, the exemption could be lost and the activity could be lobbying under the Act, even though that conclusion had not been incorporated into a piece of legislation. However, circulation of a paper that evaluates all sides of an issue but reaches no conclusion would not be lobbying.
Any involvement with a legislator or the Governor's office which constitutes influence or attempted influence could be lobbying. [Section 3(b) of the Act.] The Commission cannot make a blanket determination without examination of the specific paper, document, or memorandum and the decision in each case will be made only after such examination of the contents of the paper or document.
Discussion of such a paper by its authors in a public forum at the request of governmental officials would not be lobbying unless the authors went clearly beyond the scope of the request and attempted to influence the legislation.
Use of such papers by governmental officials as the basis for legislation would not, by itself, make the corporation a lobbyist unless it could be shown that the activities of the corporation were such as to have encouraged such use.
APPROVED BY COMMISSION: MAY 23, 1979
CONCURRING: CHAIRMAN MARGARET C. ANDRONACO, VICE CHAIRMAN D. CLINTON DOMINICK, FRANCES FOX, GAIL HELLENBRAND, and S. STANLEY KREUTZER./S/