1. I am an expert in a particular field and have been appointed to a commission to evaluate an area of law. Are my activities reportable lobbying?
a. No. Such activities are specifically excluded from the definition of lobbying.
2. Does testifying before the commission above constitute reportable lobbying?
a. No. Such activities are specifically excluded from the definition of lobbying because public hearings are deemed invitations to members of the public to testify.
3. I am the executive director of a not-for-profit organization. As a result, I am in constant contact with Council members requesting assistance on various issues concerning the community. Are these communications reportable lobbying activity?
a. The only instances in which communications with a Council member constitute lobbying is if the not-for-profit exceeds $5,000 in combined compensation and expenses to engage in one or more of the lobbying activities outlined in the Administrative Code and is not otherwise exempt.
b. For example, if the not-for-profit expends in excess of $5,000 to influence a Council member’s vote on a proposed local law, the lobbying activity is reportable. However, if the executive director contacts the Council member to write a letter of recommendation for an employee of the not-for-profit, that activity does not constitute lobbying as it does not fall within one of the lobbying activities.
4. A Council member contacts my not-for-profit organization to discuss the impact a specific proposed local law could have on the organization. Are these communications reportable lobbying activity?
a. No. Responses to requests for information made by Council members or any City official, officer or employee do not constitute lobbying.
5. A Council member contacts my not-for-profit organization to inquire if the organization wants to be considered to receive discretionary funding for the upcoming fiscal year. Are these communications deemed reportable lobbying activity?
a. No. Responses to requests for information made by Council members or any City official do not constitute lobbying.
6. The executive director of a not-for-profit organization contacts a Council member to request discretionary funding. Are these communications reportable lobbying activity?
a. If a not-for-profit affirmatively seeks discretionary funding from the Council by actively contacting Council members, or other City officials, officers or employees such communications would constitute lobbying. The communications, however, are only reportable if the non-for-profit exceeds $5,000 in combined compensation and expenses for all its lobbying activity during a given calendar year.
7. My not-for-profit organization is opening a soup kitchen to feed the homeless and calls a Council member to request that the member announce the opening to its constituents. Does my telephone call to the Council member constitute lobbying?
a. No. Such communications do not fall within one of the lobbying activities defined in the Administrative Code.
8. If the not-for-profit organization mentioned above contacts its Council member to invite the member to the opening of the soup kitchen, do those communications constitute lobbying?
a. No. Not all communications with Council members or City employees constitute lobbying. Only those communications that are attempts to influence the subject matters listed in the Administrative Code constitute lobbying.
9. If my business/organization attends a meeting at the request of a Council member about the impact a local law will have on the organization, is the meeting a reportable lobbying activity?
a. No. Responses to requests for information made by Council members or any City official, officer or employee do not constitute lobbying. However, all communications during the meeting must be made pursuant to such request. If communications during the meeting deviate from the original topic of the meeting requested by the Council member, it may become a lobbying activity.
10. If during the meeting discussed above, representatives from my business/organization begin to discuss zoning matters currently before City Planning which was not within the scope of the requested meeting, would those communications be considered a reportable lobbying activity?
a. If during the course of the meeting you attempt to influence the Council member with respect to one of the other lobbying activities contained in the lobbying law, such communications would constitute lobbying and would be reported if the business/organization exceeds the $5,000 reporting threshold.
11. Does time spent on completing forms for receipt of discretionary funding by the Council constitute lobbying?
a. The mere completion of a form does not constitute a reportable lobbying activity as it is deemed a response to a request for information. However, affirmative actions taken by a business/organization to receive discretionary funding may constitute reportable lobbying activity.
12. I am a marketer with an investment management firm. I contacted my Council member and requested that the member write a letter to one of the City’s five pension funds recommending that the City hire my firm to manage some of the funds. Does this request constitute reportable lobbying?
a. The marketer is engaged in a lobbying activity because while communications with city contracting officers and employees during the regular course of procurement planning are specifically excluded in the lobbying law, communications with elected officials or deputies of elected officials regarding contracts obtained through the procurement process are not excluded. Furthermore, contacting a Council member with respect to procuring a contract with the comptroller’s office is not likely to be considered communications “within the regular course of procurement planning.”
13. Prior to communicating with City officials, my staff and I have had several internal meetings to prepare for lobbying. Do these meetings and other preparation work constitute reportable lobbying activities?
a. The compensation paid or expenses incurred during this time would be considered lobbying activities. Note: if the meeting with City officials does not occur it will not be considered reportable lobbying activity.
14. My business/organization publishes a newsletter each month which is distributed to all of its members. Last month our newsletter urged our members to contact their Council member to support a local law that was introduced regarding the establishment of a job assistance program for the homeless population. Does this constitute reportable lobbying activities?
a. Yes. An indirect attempt to influence government decision-making (by urging the public to contact a Council member through a newsletter) may be considered lobbying as long as it involves a specific piece of legislation.