In mid-2009, the Massachusetts Legislature was rocked by the highly public federal indictments of a state senator and speaker of the Massachusetts House. In response, the legislature passed a sweeping overhaul of its campaign finance, lobbying and government ethics laws.
There are new rules in the Commonwealth that went effective on January 1. (Massachusetts is a commonwealth, not a state, which of course is longer but has no legal meaning.)
Last week, “lobbying” was limited to direct contact with elected officials or other government employees. With the new law in place, “executive lobbying” and “legislative lobbying” have much broader definitions.
“Executive lobbying,” any act to promote, oppose, influence, or attempt to influence the decision of any officer or employee of the executive branch or an authority, including but not limited to, statewide constitutional officers and employees thereof, where such decision concerns legislation or the adoption, defeat or postponement of a standard, rate, rule or regulation promulgated pursuant to any general or special law, or any act to communicate directly with a covered executive official to influence a decision concerning policy or procurement; provided further, that executive lobbying shall include acts to influence or attempt to influence the decision of any officer or employee of a city or town when those acts are intended to carry out a common purpose with executive lobbying at the state level; and provided further, that executive lobbying shall include strategizing, planning, and research if performed in connection with, or for use in, an actual communication with a government employee; and provided, further, that “executive lobbying” shall not include providing information in writing in response to a written request from an officer or employee of the executive branch or an authority for technical advice or factual information regarding a standard, rate, rule or regulation, policy or procurement for the purposes of this chapter.
You have to register if you are an “executive agent” or “legislative agent.” There are four parts of those definition:
- engage in executive or legislative lobbying (defined by the statute)
- receive compensation for lobbying in excess of $2,500 in a six-month reporting period as regular salary or payments for lobbying
- spend 25 hours or more engaged in lobbying activities in the 6 month reporting period
- personally make at least one direct lobbying communication with a government employee.
Having trouble following along? The Secretary of Commonwealth put together this flow chart.
- You, Too, Could Be a Lobbyist (Even If You Don’t Want to Be) by Dan Haley of McDermott Will & Emery’s Government Strategies Practice Group
- Unofficial Text of Chapter 28 of the Acts of 2009: AN ACT TO IMPROVE THE LAWS RELATING TO CAMPAIGN FINANCE, ETHICS AND LOBBYING
- Lobbying FAQ from the Secretary of the Commonwealth
- Lobbyist Registration and Reporting System
- Are You Lobbying? pdf from the Secretary of State
- New Massachusetts Campaign Finance, Ethics and Lobbying Law – prior post