2009-1012
Created By: Sylvia Scott on 11/23/2009 at 08:04 AM
Category: Lobbyist Advisory Opinions
Caption:
Dismissed Document:

November 23, 2009

Mr. Adam Knapp
Baton Rouge Area Chamber
564 Laurel Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70801

RE: Ethics Board Docket No. 2009-1012

Dear Mr. Knapp:

The Louisiana Board of Ethics, at its November 20, 2009 Board meeting, considered your request for an advisory opinion regarding whether employees of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) are required to register as lobbyists if they are engaged to perform research which may be used to support or oppose legislation. You indicated that some BRAC employees are engaged in research or policy analysis on material which may be used in legislation. You also indicated that these employees may not have direct contact with a legislator and may not make expenditures. You indicated that the BRAC employees engaged in research do not spend 20% or more of their time communicating with legislators or attending meetings with legislators.

The Board concluded and instructed me to inform you that LSA-RS 24:51(4) defines "Lobbying" as (a) any direct act or communication with a legislator, the purpose of which is to aid in influencing the passage or defeat of any legislation, (b) any preparation or research specifically intended, at the time it is performed, for use in or in support of any ongoing or planned direct act or communication with a legislator, the purpose of which is to aid in influencing the passage or defeat of any legislation, or (c) conducting or attending a meeting the purpose of which is to discuss direct communication with a legislator to aid in influencing the passage or defeat of any legislation.

"Lobbyist" is defined by LSA-R.S. 24:51(5)(a) as (i) any person who is employed or engaged for compensation to act in a representative capacity for the purpose of lobbying if lobbying constitutes one of the principal duties of such employment or engagement, or (ii) any person who acts in a representative capacity and makes an expenditure. Section (b) of LSA-R.S. 24:51 indicates that "lobbyist" shall not mean any person who does not make any direct act or have any direct communication with a legislator for the purpose of influencing the passage or defeat of any legislation.

"Principal duty" is defined in LSA-R.S. 24:51(8) as any duty which is expected to account for twenty percent or more of a person's time in fulfilling the terms of his engagement or any duty which is expected to account for twenty percent or more of a person's time in any given year in performing the responsibilities of his employment.

Specifically, you posed the following questions to the Board:

1. Is an employee who is engaged in research or policy analysis required to register as a legislative lobbyist if he/she is doing research on material which may be used in legislation?

2. What bearing, if any, does it have on the requirements to register as a legislative lobbyist if the person has little and/or no direct contact with a legislator, or makes no expense? There are multiple permutations to consider
If research or policy staffer who analyzes speaks to a legislator, are they required to register as a legislative lobbyist?
if they speak to a legislator but do not do so for the purpose of influence the passage or defeat of legislation, are they required to register?
if they speak to a legislator in favor or opposition to legislation, but that action is less than 20% of their responsibility, are they required to register?
is a researcher or policy staffer required to register if they have a reportable expenditure with a legislator?

The Board concluded, and instructed me to advise you, that, generally, a BRAC employee who performs research, at the time of which it is performed will be used in or in support of any ongoing or planned direct act or communication with a legislator, the purpose of which is to aid in influencing the passage or defeat of any legislation, then the employee is engaged in “lobbying” as term is defined by LSA-R.S. 24:51(4)(b). If the employee is engaged to perform such research for more than 20% of his time in fulfilling the terms of his engagement or duty which is expected to account for twenty percent or more of a person's time in any given year in performing the responsibilities of his employment, then by definition, “lobbying” is one of the principal duties of such an employee.

If the employee does not make any direct act or have any direct communication with a legislator for the purpose of influencing the passage or defeat of any legislation, then the employee engaged to provide research as a “principal duty” of his employment does not have to register as a lobbyist, in accordance with LSA-R.S. 24:51(5)(b).

If the employee engaged to provide research as a “principal duty” of his employment does make any direct act or have any direct communication with a legislator for the purpose of influencing the passage or defeat of any legislation, then such an employee would be required to register as a lobbyist.

If any employee of BRAC acts in a representative capacity on behalf of BRAC, and makes an “expenditure” on a legislator, the employee is required to register as a lobbyist regardless if lobbying constitutes one of the employees principal duties.

This advisory opinion is based solely on the facts as set forth herein. Changes to the facts as presented may result in a different application of the provisions of the Code of Ethics. In addition, if you would like to receive an advisory opinion regarding whether a specific person employed by BRAC needs to register as a lobbyist, please forward the name of the individual to the Board as well as all the pertinent information concerning the persons employment. The Board issues no opinion as to past conduct or laws other than the Code of Governmental Ethics. If you have any questions, please contact me at (225) 219-5600 or (800) 842-6630.

Sincerely,

LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS


Michael Dupree
For the Board

...........................