Consulting Services vs. Advocacy

Not all professional services that can be characterized as “government affairs” require lobbyist registration and disclosure of activity and expenditures.  Often a client will hire an individual who is familiar with the legislative, rulemaking, regulatory, grants/entitlements or procurement process to provide direction or otherwise assist the client in that particular process.  Likewise, an entity may hire an individual who has a presence on Capitol Square and knows the appropriate agency or individuals the client should contact to achieve their objective.  Examples of professional services that could be characterized as government affairs, but which do not require lobbying registration include:

  • Monitoring legislation that could impact an entire industry and advising a client of options or remedies;
  • coordinating a grassroots campaign that encourages individuals to contact public officials on proposed or pending legislation;
  • assisting a client in completing an application for a permit, grant, tax-abatement or credit, business loan, or other financial incentive;
  • appearing on behalf of a client named in a particular case or similar matter;
  • developing a public relations strategy  that incorporates media coverage of the impact of proposed legislation or regulation;
  • coordinating and assisting a client with testimony provided at a public hearing.

The common element in the above examples is that the consultant has not communicated directly with a public official or employee on the client’s behalf outside of a public hearing.  Once the representation involves direct communication with a public official or employee to affect the outcome of legislation or an executive agency decision, lobbying registration may be required.

To discuss whether professional services being provided on behalf of a client requires lobbying registration contact our office at 614-728-5100.