This is a summary of the New York City law governing lobbyists and lobbying activities as codified in Title 3, Chapter 2, Subchapter 2 of the New York City Administrative Code, as amended by Local Law 129 of 2013, and Title 51 of the Rules of the City of New York (collectively referred to as the "Lobbying Law"). For the complete text of the law please view: NYC Administrative Code.
Who is a Lobbyist?
A lobbyist is defined as every person or organization retained, employed, or designated by a client to engage in lobbying. This may include lobbyist/client filers when a business/organization’s employees lobby on behalf of the business/organization.
Who is a Client?
A client is every person or organization who retains, employs, or designates any person or organization to carry on lobbying activities on its behalf.
Lobbying Defined¹ (Ad. Code §3-211)
Lobbying is the attempt to influence the following types of actions:
1. Any determination made by the City Council with respect to the introduction, passage, defeat or substance of any local legislation or resolution;
2. Any determination made by the Mayor to support, oppose, approve or disapprove any local legislation or resolution whether or not such legislation has been introduced in the City Council;
3. Any determination by an elected City official, City officer, or employee concerning:
a. the procurement of goods, services, or construction,
b. the solicitation, award or administration of a contract, or
c. the solicitation, award, or administration of a grant, loan, or agreement involving the disbursement of public monies;
4. Any determination by the Mayor, the City Council, the City Planning Commission, a Borough President, Borough Board or a Community Board concerning zoning or the use, development, or improvement of real property subject to City regulation;
5. Any determination by an elected City official, a City officer or employee concerning:
a. the terms of acquisition or disposition by the City of any interest in real property;
b. a license or permit for the use of real property of or by the City; or
c. a franchise, concession, or revocable consent;
6. The proposal, adoption, amendment, or rejection of any rule by an agency;
7. The decision to hold, timing or outcome of a ratemaking proceeding before an agency;
8. The agenda or any determination of a board or commission;
9. Any determination regarding the calendaring or scope of any City Council oversight hearing;
10. The issuance, repeal, modification or substance of a mayoral executive order; or
11. Any determination made by an elected city official or an officer or employee of the city to support or oppose any state or federal legislation, rule or regulation whether or not it has been formally introduced or proposed.
Requirement for a Lobbyist to Register a Client (Ad. Code §3-213)
• When a lobbyist reasonably anticipates that it will earn, receive, or expend over $5,000 in compensation and expenses for lobbying in New York City in the coming year, the lobbyist is required to file a Statement of Registration.
• The $5,000 threshold applies cumulatively to compensation a lobbyist receives from all its clients; it is not a threshold that must be reached for each individual client. Once the threshold is exceeded, the lobbyist must file a Statement of Registration for each of its clients.
• A lobbyist who knows or reasonably anticipates by December 31 of the present year that it needs to file a Statement of Registration for the upcoming year, must file the Statement of Registration by the following January 15.
• In all other cases, a lobbyist must file within 15 days of being retained.
• A Statement of Registration must be filed for each client each calendar year.
Requirement for a Client to File² (Ad. Code §3-217)
• When a client cumulatively expends over $5,000 annually in reportable compensation and expenses for lobbying in New York City, it must file a Client Annual Report.
• In addition to a Client Annual Report, a client that lobbies on its own behalf is required to file lobbyist reports (Statement of Registration, Periodic Reports, Lobbyist Annual Report, and Fundraising and Political Consulting Report(s) (if applicable)) if it expends over $5,000 annually in reportable compensation and expenses for such lobbying.
Requirement for Filing Reports
• Once a lobbyist has filed a Statement of Registration, a lobbyist is responsible for filing the following reports:
o Up to six bi-monthly Periodic Reports;
o Lobbyist Annual Report (also known as the Sixth Periodic Report);
o Up to six Fundraising and Political Consulting Report(s), (if applicable); and
o Termination notice(s), (if applicable).
• If a lobbyist has filed a Statement of Registration, the named client is responsible for filing a Client Annual Report if it meets the criterion described above under “Requirement for a Client to File”.
Method of Registration: Enrollment and Filing
• Lobbyists and clients are required by law to file reports electronically using e-Lobbyist.
• e-Lobbyist is designed to assist filers by providing an e-Lobbyist user guide and user-friendly data entry fields.
• To use e-Lobbyist for the first time, each Lobbyist and Client must first enroll. Enrollment is a one-time process and is not repeated in any subsequent year.
• To enroll, the Principal Officer for each Lobbyist and Client must provide pertinent information about each entity.
• Once this process is completed, the Principal Officer will receive two emails from e-Lobbyist: a completion deadline email and a password email. The Lobbyist or Client should follow the link in the password email and create a password.
• The completion deadline email instructs the Lobbyist or Client to send a “proof of corporate filing” or an affidavit (if no proof of corporate filing exists) to the Lobbying Bureau within 10 days of the date of the enrollment request.
• Once the Lobbying Bureau receives the proof of corporate filing (or affidavit only if no proof of corporate filing exists) the enrollment will be accepted in e-Lobbyist and completed. Once the enrollment is accepted, the Principal Officer of the Lobbyist may proceed with filing the Statement of Registration for an enrolled Client. After the Client’s enrollment is accepted, the Principal Officer of the Client will be able to file a Client Annual Report at the appropriate time.
• When the Statement of Registration is filed, the Lobbyist is required to submit payment of the registration fee ($150 for the first registration and $50 for each additional client registration) and either mail the retainer agreement between the Lobbyist and Client to the Lobbying Bureau or upload it via e-Lobbyist. If there is no written retainer agreement between the Lobbyist and Client, the Lobbyist is required to reduce the terms of the agreement to writing, and submit it by either mailing it to the Lobbying Bureau or uploading it via e-Lobbyist.
• Registration fees can be paid by check, credit card (in person only) or money order payable to "the City Clerk"
• To use e-Lobbyist, the lobbyist or client enters its user I.D. (email address) and password at the login page located at nyc.gov/elobbyist.
Termination of a Client (Ad. Code §3-215)
• Within 30 days of a termination of an agreement for services, both the Lobbyist and a Client must submit a Termination Notice via e-Lobbyist.
• After a Termination Notice is filed, the Lobbyist must report all lobbying activity occurring within the reporting period in which the termination occurred.
• In addition, both the Lobbyist and the Client (if the $5,000 reporting threshold is exceeded) must file an annual report for the year in which the termination took place as long as the client exceeded the $5,000 thershold.
No Contingent Retainers (Ad. Code §3-218)
• Clients are not permitted to retain, employ, or designate any Lobbyist if the rate or amount of compensation is partly or wholly contingent or dependent upon the Lobbyist's results in influencing any City legislative, executive, or administrative action.
• Lobbyists are not permitted to accept any such contingent retainer, employment, or designation.
Retention of Records (Ad. Code §3-220)
Lobbyists and Clients must keep a detailed and exact account for at least five years of:
• All compensation of any amount or value of any kind;
• Names and addresses of every person paying or promising to pay compensation of $50 or more and the date of that promise;
• All expenditures made by or on behalf of the Client; and
• Names and addresses of every person to whom any item of expenditure over $50 is made and a receipted bill for each expenditure.
Violations of the Lobbying Law (51 RCNY §1-03)
Lobbyists and Clients are subject to penalties for violating the Lobbying Law that include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Failure of a Lobbyist to register a Client or failure of a Client to register itself if lobbying on its own behalf;
• Failure to submit any filing (Statement(s) of Registration, Periodic Reports, Sixth Periodic Report(s)/Lobbyist Annual Report(s), Client Annual Report, Fundraising and Political Consulting Report(s), Termination Notice(s));
• Late filing of the Statement(s) of Registration or any filing;
• Failure to complete or timely amend any section or portion of the Statement(s) of Registration or any filing;
• Failure to supply the correct information in the Statement(s) of Registration or any filing;
• Failure to pay any required fee; and
• Failure to pay a penalty in a stated period of time may result in payment of an additional penalty if the initial penalty so provides.
Extensions of Filing Deadlines
A Lobbyist or Client may request an extension to file a required report if:
• The Lobbyist or Client can show good cause;
• The request is made through the filing extension request form (found under sample forms); and
• The request is received by the Lobbying Bureau prior to the filing deadline.
Penalties (Ad. Code §3-223)
Any person or organization that violates the Lobbying Law is subject to the following penalties:
• Any person or organization who knowingly or willfully violates any provision of the Lobbying Law or the Rules:
o shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, and shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $30,000 to be assessed by the City Clerk; or
o shall be subject to an order to cease all lobbying activities for up to sixty days as determined by the City Clerk; or
o shall be subject to both a civil penalty and an order to cease lobbying activity.
• Any person or organization who violates an order to cease issued by the City Clerk or who enters into a contingent retainer or accepts or pays contingency fees:
o shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, and
o shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $30,000 to be assessed by the City Clerk.
• Any person or organization who fails to file a Statement of Registration or any filing required by the Lobbying Law will be notified by the City Clerk of such failure by certified mail, return receipt requested. The filing must be made within 14 business days of the mailing of such notice. Any person or organization who fails to file any Statement of Registration or filing within the 14 day period:
o shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, and
o shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $20,000 to be assessed by the City Clerk.
• In addition to the above penalties, any Lobbyist who fails to file a Statement of Registration or other filing, or a Client who fails to file a Client Annual Report on time, shall be subject to late penalties.
¹ The italicized language takes effect on May 16, 2014 pursuant to Local Law 129 of 2013.
² Cumulative includes aggregate compensation and expenses paid to all lobbyists retained by the client.