1. How do I determine if my business or organization’s lobbying activities are required to be reported?
a. If your organization engages in one of the listed lobbying activities that is not exempt AND exceeds $5,000 in combined compensation and expenses for lobbying in a calendar year, then your business or organization is required to register as a lobbyist.
2. How is compensation calculated?
a. Lobbyist/client filer: a business/organization whose employees lobby on behalf of the business/organization.
i. Compensation is calculated by pro-rating the portion of compensation paid to the employee(s) for lobbying activity as well as any efforts that contributed to the lobbying including, but not limited to:
1. Preparation work;
2. Staff meetings;
3. Telephone calls; and
4. Time spent making photocopies.
b. Lobbyist filer: a lobbying firm that is retained by a client to lobby based upon a written retainer/oral agreement.
i. Compensation is the amount paid to the lobbyist by the client pursuant to the retainer/oral agreement for lobbying.
3. How does my business/organization comply with the lobbying law?
In order to comply with the lobbying law, you are required to:
a. File a statement of registration for each client (if you are a lobbyist/client filer then only one statement of registration is required);
b. File up to six periodic reports per year depending on the start and end dates in the statement of registration;
c. File up to six fundraising and political consulting reports per year (if applicable);
d. File an annual report (if applicable); and
e. Adhere to the other requirements outlined in the Administrative Code and the Rules of the City of New York.
4. What is the process to register my business/organization?
a. Prior to filing a statement of registration, the business/organization (the lobbyist and the client) must enroll in the electronic filing system called e-Lobbyist.
b. Enrollment is a one-time process and there is no fee to enroll.
d. Once the enrollment is submitted the Principal Officer will receive an email to create a password.
5. Are lobbyists employed by a lobbying firm or other entity required to file an individual statement(s) of registration?
a. No. A statement(s) of registration is filed in the name of the business/organization (employer of the individual lobbyist) and the lobbyists it employs are listed on the statement of registration. However, if the lobbyist entity is a sole proprietor then the statement(s) of registration is filed in the name of the individual.
6. Who is the “principal officer”?
a. The principal officer is the chief administrative officer of the business/organization. The principal officer is the person in the business/organization that has that legal capacity to enter into a contract on behalf of the organization.
c. Only the principal officer can certify a report. A report is not deemed complete until it is certified by the principal officer.
7. Can someone other than the Principal Officer complete the reports?
a. A report is only deemed “complete” or “filed” when the report is certified. Only the principal officer can certify a report. However, the principal officer can designate up to two individuals to complete the reports and create a draft for the principal officer to certify.
b. Designee(s) can be assigned by editing the entity profile of your entity on e-Lobbyist.
8. How does my business/organization file a statement of registration and other reports?
a. Once your business/organization’s enrollment is accepted in e-Lobbyist, you may begin to file reports including a statement(s) of registration, periodic and annual reports, fundraising/political consulting reports, and notices of termination.
b. Statements of registration and other reports are filed by logging onto e-Lobbyist using your user I.D. and password. You user I.D. is the email address you submitted with your enrollment and your password is created by you during the enrollment process.
c. All reports are filed in the name of the business/organization (employer) and all employees that will be lobbying for a particular registered client, in a given year, are to be listed on the statement of registration.
d. The lobbyist entity files a separate statement of registration and periodic reports for each client that has retained its services.
9. Assuming my business/organization anticipates it will exceed the reporting threshold for lobbying in a calendar year, what is the filing deadline for the statement(s) of registration?
a. If a lobbyist is retained or employed prior to December 31 of the previous year a statement(s) of registration is to be filed by January 15. If a lobbyist is retained or employed after December 31 a statement(s) of registration is to be filed within 15 days of retention or employment.
10. What if my client’s delay in enrolling causes my business/organization to file a late statement of registration and/or periodic report?
a. A lobbyist cannot begin filing reports for a client until that client is enrolled in the e-Lobbyist system. If your client has not enrolled please contact the Lobbying Bureau at 212-669-8171 so that we may help expedite your client’s enrollment. Your business or organization will not be responsible for filing reports late if a client fails to timely enroll. As of May 16, 2014, the client has an affirmative obligation to enroll and the client may be subject to a penalty for failure to enroll.
11. When does a statement(s) of registration expire?
a. A statement(s) of registration automatically expires on December 31 of each year. A lobbyist must file a new statement of registration each calendar year for a client if such retainer agreement extends into future years.
b. If the agreement with a client terminates prior to the contract’s terms, the lobbyist must amend the end date in the statement of registration AND file a termination notice within 30 days of the termination. The client is also required to file a termination notice within 30 days of the termination.
12. What is the fee to file a statement of registration?
a. The registration fee is $150 for the first registration filed in the year and $50 for each additional registration filed within such year.
13. What information is reported on the statement of registration?
a. A statement(s) of registration is meant to be anticipatory. Thus it will include a description of the lobbying activities and targets the organization anticipates it will be lobbying in the upcoming year and the names of all employees that will be lobbying for the client including the principal officer, designees, support staff and employees that will lobby City targets. See Administrative Code § 3-213.
b. A written retainer agreement outlining the terms of representation must also be submitted with a statement(s) of registration. If the agreement is oral, its terms must be reduced to writing and submitted with the statement of registration.
14. What is the “start/end date” that is required to be listed on the statement of registration?
a. The start date is the date of retention; the date in which the lobbyist was retained or authorized to lobby. The start/end dates are not necessarily the first and last days of the year in which lobbying activity takes place. The dates should match the dates listed on the retainer that is attached to the statement of registration. See Announcement regarding retainers sent to lobbyist and lobbyist client filers on January 26, 2011.
b. Start/end dates dictate which periodic reports are required to be filed. All periodic reports that fall within the start/end dates are required. For example, if the start date is January 1, and the end date is December 31, six periodic reports are required to be filed that year.
15. What is a periodic report?
a. A periodic report is filed by the lobbyist entity and lists lobbying activity for a particular client in a two-month period. A separate periodic report is filed for each client.
16. What are the periods of the periodic reoprts?
a. Periodic Report #1 (lobbying activity from January 1 through the last day of February);
b. Periodic Report #2 (lobbying activity from March 1 through April 30);
c. Periodic Report #3 (lobbying activity from May 1 through June 30);
d. Periodic Report #4 (lobbying activity from July 1 through August 31);
e. Periodic Report #5 (lobbying activity from September 1 through October 31); and
f. Periodic Report #6/Annual Report (lobbying activity from November 1 through December 31).
17. What if the filing deadline falls on a weekend or a NYC holiday?
a. The filing deadline is extended until the next business day.
18. Does the City Clerk grant filing extensions for periodic reports?
a. Any filer can obtain an extension to file any report during the year as long as the request is made in writing, for good cause and is submitted to the Lobbying Bureau prior to the filing deadline.
b. Late extension requests will be denied.
19. What information is required to be reported on the periodic report?
a. The periodic report details lobbying that actually took place in the given period.
b. Information contained in the report includes:
i. The employee(s) who lobbied;
ii. A description of the subject(s) lobbied;
iii. The lobbying target(s) including the agency lobbied, the specific contact person and the decision-maker at that agency;
iv. The compensation paid to the lobbying firm (or employees of a lobbyist/client filer); and
v. The expenses incurred for lobbying, including expenses reimbursed by the client.
20. Is a periodic report required when no lobbying activity took place within that period?
a. Yes. Periodic reports are required to be filed whether or not lobbying activity took place within that period. If a statement of registration is filed, a periodic report must be filed for every period that falls within the start and end dates listed on the statement of registration. If the end date is any time prior to December 31, a P6/annual report must always be filed.
21. If my business/organization stops lobbying (or stops lobbying for a particular client), what should we do?
a. If lobbying ceases during the year, the lobbyist is required to file a termination notice within 30 days of the termination.
b. In addition, if lobbying activity for a particular client was terminated, the client is required to file a termination notice within 30 days.
22. After a termination notice is filed, is my business/organization required to file further reports?
a. If the termination is filed during a reporting period, the periodic report covering the period in which the termination took place is required to be filed.
b. In addition, regardless of when the termination notice is filed, the lobbyist is always required to file the 6th periodic report (P6/Annual Report).
c. Lastly, the client is always required to file the client annual report even if a termination notice was filed during the year as long as the client exceeded the reporting threshold.
23. When is a fundraising and political consulting report (“FRPCR”) required to be filed?
a. The FRPCR follows the same filing schedule as the periodic reports. However, unlike the periodic report, the FRPCR is only filed if a person required to be listed on the statement of registration of that registered lobbyist entity engages in fundraising and/or political consulting activities during a reporting period.
24. As a lobbying firm, is my business/organization required to file an annual report?
a. Lobbyist filers are not required to file a separate annual report. The 6th periodic report is considered the lobbyist’s annual report.
25. What are a client’s reporting requirements?
a. A client of a lobbyist is required to file a client annual report if the client exceeds the $5,000 threshold for hiring lobbying firms. The report is due no later than January 15 and covers the previous year’s lobbying activity. Compensation, expenses and other information pertaining to the lobbyist and the lobbying activity is contained on the report.
26. My business/organization is a lobbyist/client filer. Are we required to file a client annual report?
a. If your business/organization does not retain an outside lobbyist, it is not required to file a client annual report. (Please note that as a lobbyist you are still required to file an annual report also known as the P6 report.) If your business/organization retains an outside lobbyist, a client annual report is required if the $5,000 threshold is exceeded for such lobbying activity.
27. Are there requirements of the lobbying law besides filing reports?
a. In addition to the filing requirements, registered lobbyists are also required to:
i. Retain documents to substantiate the finances listed in the reports for five years;
ii. Refrain from giving/receiving compensation on a contingent basis as these are prohibited by the law;
iii. Adhere to the gift rules, which are enforced by the Conflicts of Interest Board; and
iv. Observe the obligations set forth in the Administrative Code §3-219.
28. What are the penalties for violating the lobbying law?
a. For a knowing and willful violation, or for a violation of the prohibition on contingent compensation, a civil penalty of up to $30,000 and/or a cease order for up to 60 days may be imposed;
b. Late filing penalties for late filings (Please note: as of May 16, 2014 late filing fees shall be $10 per day for each late filing for first-time filers, $25 per day for each late filing for repeat filers); and
c. A civil penalty of up to $20,000 for failing to cure a violation within 14 business days of the mailing of a notice to cure.
29. Does the City Clerk reduce or waive late filing penalties?
a. Late filing penalties are not waivable or reducible for any reason. Effective May 16, 2014 late filers may seek a waiver or reduction of late filing penalties under limited circumstances. If you think a report may be filed late, please request an extension in writing two business days prior to the filing deadline. Extensions are granted for good cause.
30. How will my business/organization know the date of a filing deadline?
a. All filing deadlines are posted on the City Clerk’s website.
b. In addition, e-Lobbyist automatically sends an email two weeks prior to the filing deadline notifying the entity of the impeding filing deadline of a periodic report.
c. A second automatically generated notification is sent via e-Lobbyist notifying the entity of the late periodic report.