Guidelines When Traveling With A Lobbyist

Members and employees are prohibited from accepting travel expenses from a legislative agent.  Travel is defined as lodging and transportation of more than 50 miles one way by bus, train, boat, plane, or automobile.  Remember:

  • A legislative agent who is a passenger in your vehicle may not reimburse you for his or her share of the travel costs.  Your travel costs remain the same whether or not the lobbyist is a passenger.
  • It is not considered a travel expense if the legislative staff/Member reimburses the legislative agent within seven (7) days of the expenditure.
    • Reimbursement for lodging in a private dwelling is based on what it would cost for comparable lodging in a commercial establishment in the same area. 
    • Travel reimbursement is based on the IRS mileage rate (i.e. legislative staff/Member cannot merely pay for the gas on the trip).

Example 1:

Liam Lobbyist and Scott Staff Member both reside in Columbus but have family located in Anytown, Ohio.  Anytown, Ohio is more than 50 miles from Columbus one way.  Liam Lobbyist and Scott Staff Member have been friends since childhood and want to drive home together for the holidays. 

As their destination is more than 50 miles (one way) from Columbus, Liam Lobbyist is prohibited from driving Scott Staff Member.  Liam Lobbyist can ride with Scott Staff Member in Scott Staff Member’s car.  Liam Lobbyist may not reimburse Scott Staff Member for the trip either in whole or in part.

Example 2:

Lucy Lobbyist, Sam Staff Member and Sue Staff Member are traveling to Nowhereville, Ohio located more than 50 miles from Columbus, Ohio.  Lucy Lobbyist drives Sam Staff Member and Sue Staff Member to Nowhereville, Ohio.  Sam Staff Member and Sue Staff Member must reimburse Lucy Lobbyist at the IRS mileage rate within 7 days of the expenditure.  Sam Staff Member and Sue Staff Member may determine the total amount owed (IRS Mileage Rate X # of miles) and divide the total by 2.  Lucy Lobbyist, Sam Staff Member and Sue Staff Member should keep records outlining the details of the expenditure and reimbursement.

Example 3:

Leo Lobbyist, Lilly Lobbyist and Steve Staff Member are traveling from Columbus to Someplace, Ohio (more than 50 miles away).  Both Steve Staff Member and Lilly Lobbyist are passengers in Leo Lobbyist’s vehicle.  Steve Staff Member must reimburse Leo Lobbyist within 7 days of the expenditure, at the IRS mileage rate.  Steve Staff Member cannot split the cost of the reimbursement with Lilly Lobbyist even though she was also a passenger in the vehicle.