There are multiple factors – all of which must be present – in order for an individual to trigger registration as a lobbyist. In the case of a lobbyist or entity reporting income from lobbying activities, once the triggers are met by one individual in the firm (if more than one employee in the firm), the lobbyist or firm must register within 45 days of the first lobbying contact.
RULE: Generally, to trigger registration, an individual
1.) must spend 20% of his/her time for a particular client during a quarterly period engaged in lobbying activities for that client
2.) make more than one lobbying contact to a covered executive or legislative branch official, and
3.) receive lobbying activity income of $3,000 or more during that quarter
Twenty Percent of Time Engaged in Lobbying Activities for the Client
An individual must spend 20% of his/her time engaged in lobbying activities for a particular client in order to meet the necessary time thresholds for registration as a lobbyist. This does not mean that an individual must spend 20% of his/her total time in a quarter engaged in lobbying activities for that particular client. Rather, it is measured in terms of the time spent by the lobbyist for the specific client.
“Lobbying activities” are defined as “lobbying contacts and any efforts in support of such contacts, including preparation or planning activities, research and other background work that is intended, at the time of its preparation, for use in contacts and coordination with the lobbying activities of others.”
Lobbying Contact to a Covered Executive or Legislative Branch Official
A lobbying contact is any contact with a “covered executive or legislative branch official” as that term is defined in the LDA.
Covered executive branch officials are:
1. The President
2. The Vice President
3. Officers and employees of the Executive Office of the President
4. Any official serving in an Executive Level I-V position
5. Any member of the uniformed services serving at grade 0-7 or above
6. “Schedule C” Employees
Covered legislative branch officials are:
7. a Member of Congress
8. an elected officer of either the House or the Senate
9. an employee, or any other individual functioning in the capacity of an employee who works for a Member, committee, leadership staff of either the Senate or House, a joint committee of Congress, a working group or caucus organized to provide services to Members, and
10. any other legislative branch employee who, for at least 60 days, occupies a position for which the rate of basic pay is equal to or greater than 120 percent of the minimum rate of basic pay payable for GS-15 of the General Schedule
Communications with any of the persons serving in the jobs listed above are most likely “lobbying contacts” unless the communications are specifically exempt from that definition.
Income of $3,000 or More During a Quarter
It is very important to remember that a lobbyist is someone who is compensated by a client to engage in “lobbying activities” and make “lobbying contacts.” HLOGA reduced the calculations for determining compensation from $5,000 during a six-month period under the old law to $2,500 during a three-month period, effective January 1, 2008. An adjustment made in accordance with the Consumer Price Index increased this threshold to $3,000 as of January 1, 2009.
How is the $3,000 calculated in most circumstances? If a client retains a lobbyist and agrees to pay an amount equal to $3,000 over a three-month period, then that is sufficient to meet the monetary test.