February 9, 2007
Mr. Gil Dupre, CEO
Louisiana Association of Health Plans
9467 Brookline Avenue
Baton Rouge, LA 70809
RE: Ethics Board Docket No. 2006-1095
Dear Mr. Dupre:
The Louisiana Board of Ethics, at its February 8, 2007 meeting, considered your request for an advisory opinion concerning whether you must register as an executive branch lobbyist when you serve as the CEO of Louisiana Association of Health Plans, a state trade association. You stated that you serve as the CEO of Louisiana Association of Health Plans and that your responsibilities as the CEO are not primarily that of a lobbyist but of overall administrator of the association. The association contracts with an outside lobbyist for most lobbying efforts on behalf of the association. You further stated that you are registered as a legislative lobbyist since you do interact and communicate with legislators on issues affecting members of the association. As CEO, your duties do bring you into contact with members of the executive branch, such as the Department of Insurance, where many regulatory issues affect the association’s membership.
Act 748 of the 2006 Regular Session changed the definition of "lobbyist" as contained in the Executive Branch Lobbyist Disclosure Act (EBLDA). It states that a lobbyist is a 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 duties of such employment or engagement. However, a person who is engaged or employed to provide a professional service to a person and incidental to providing such service the person communicates with an executive branch agency or official or makes an appearance or assists in an appearance with an executive branch agency or official, is not a lobbyist unless he or his employer/principal makes an expenditure. Also, any person who lobbies and who only receives reimbursement of expenses in connection with such lobbying is required to register as a lobbyist if he makes expenditures of $500 or more in the calendar year.
The Board concluded and instructed me to inform you that the EBLDA does not require you to register as a lobbyist unless you or your employer makes an expenditure in connection with your communication with an executive branch agency or official since it appears that you are employed to provide a professional service and that any communication with an executive branch agency or officials of an executive branch agency are incidental to the performance of your professional services. An expenditure is defined by Section 72(5) of the EBLDA as any gift or payment of money or anything of value for the purchase of food, drink, or refreshment and any gift or payment permitted by R.S. 42:1123(13) when the value exceeds ten dollars for the purpose of lobbying when the lobbyist or principal accounts, or would be expected to account, for the expenditure as an ordinary and necessary expense directly related to the active conduct of the lobbyist's, his employer's, or the principal's trade or business. Therefore, as long as no “expenditure” is made by either you or your employer/principal in connection with your communications or any appearances involving an executive branch agency or official, then you are not required to register with the Board as an executive branch lobbyist.
The Board issues no opinion as to laws other than the Executive Branch Lobbyist Disclosure Act. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (225)763-8777 or (800) 842-6630.
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
Peggy A. Sabadie
For the Board