Question:Since I have worked with local lawmakers, my department has told me that I need to register as a lobbyist. Can you assist me with that?
The terms “lobbying” and “lobbyist” are often used whenever someone interacts with elected lawmakers, with the intent of persuading them to support or reject a particular issue or piece of legislation. The truth is that most activity performed by The American Legion family is more along the lines of educating our government, rather than the strict definition of acting as a lobbyist.
Being a lobbyist comes with some restrictions and, according to the National Conference of State Legislators, “The definition of who is a lobbyist usually revolves around compensation. Most states define a lobbyist as someone who receives any amount of compensation or reimbursement to lobby. Among the exceptions are Hawaii, Minnesota and New York. These states stipulate threshold amounts of money and time spent on lobbying, and, if these thresholds are reached, an individual becomes a lobbyist.”
Each state has its own definition of what lobbying is, and what it means to be a lobbyist. To see exactly what your state considers to be lobbying activities, visit http://www.ncsl.org/legislatures-elections/ethicshome/50-state-chart-lob... .
There is also a federal definition of what it means to be a lobbyist (outlined in 2 U.S.C. 1602), which simply says “LOBBYIST.—The term ”lobbyist” means any individual who is employed or retained by a client for financial or other compensation for services that include more than one lobbying contact, other than an individual whose lobbying activities constitute less than 20 percent of the time engaged in the services provided by such individual to that client over a 3-month period.”
To read the entire section of the code that relates to lobbying, go to http://www.senate.gov/legislative/Lobbying/Lobby_Disclosure_Act/3_Defini... .
As I said earlier, most activity performed by Legion members at the department level isn’t normally considered the type of lobbying that would place the Legionnaire in a position as to require lobbyist declarations. But you should always check with your state to be sure. If you fall into the lobbyist category at the federal level, then you will need to register with the federal government as a lobbyist. To learn more about the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act, visit http://lobbyingdisclosure.house.gov/amended_lda_guide.html#section8 .