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Registration and Reporting Requirements for California Lobbyists

Lobbying firms, lobbyist employers and lobbying coalitions must register with the Secretary of State

By Chris Micheli, February 11, 2022 7:15 am

California’s Political Reform Act contains detailed laws related to lobbyists in Chapter 6. Article 1 of Chapter 6 deals with Registration and Reporting and contains Government Code Sections 86100 – 86118. Section 86100 requires the following persons to register with the Secretary of State:

  • Lobbying firms.
  • Lobbyist employers who employ one or more in-house lobbyists.
  • Lobbying coalitions who employ at least one in-house lobbyist.

Each individual lobbyist is required to submit a lobbyist certification for filing with the Secretary of State as part of the registration of the lobbying firm in which the lobbyist is a partner, owner, officer, or employee, or as part of the registration of the lobbyist employer that employs the lobbyist. A registration statement must be filed both by online or electronic means and physically, submitting the original statement and one copy, in paper format.

Section 86101 specifies that every lobbying firm and lobbyist employer who is required to file a registration statement must register with the Secretary of State no later than 10 days after qualifying as a lobbying firm or lobbyist employer. Section 86102 requires the Secretary of State to charge each lobbying firm and lobbyist employer required to file a registration statement a fee of $50 per year for each lobbyist required to be listed on its registration statement.

Section 86103 requires a lobbyist certification to include all of the following:

  • A recent photograph of the lobbyist, in a size prescribed by the Secretary of State.
  • The lobbyist’s full name, business address, email address, and telephone number.
  • A statement that the lobbyist has read and understands the prohibitions.
  • A statement regarding the lobbyist’s completion of the ethics course.

For a lobbyist who filed a completed lobbyist certification in connection with the last regular session of the Legislature, the lobbyist must file either of the following statements:

  • That the lobbyist has completed the ethics course within the previous 12 months.
  • That the lobbyist will complete the ethics course no later than June 30 of the following year, in which case the certification is accepted on a conditional basis.

In the case of a new lobbyist certification, if the lobbyist has not completed the course within the previous 12 months, the lobbyist certification is required to include a statement that the lobbyist will complete the course within 12 months. The lobbyist certification is then accepted on a conditional basis.

Section 86104 specifies that the registration of a lobbying firm must include:

  • The full name, business address, and telephone number of the lobbying firm.
  • A list of the lobbyists who are partners, owners, officers, or employees of the lobbying firm.
  • The lobbyist certification of each lobbyist in the lobbying firm.

Section 86105 requires the registration for a lobbyist employer that employs lobbyists or a lobbying coalition to include specified information. In addition, the lobbyist employer or coalition is required to provide:

  • A list of the lobbyists who are employed by the lobbyist employer or coalition.
  • The lobbyist certification of each lobbyist employed.

Section 86106 requires each registered lobbying firm and lobbyist employer which will be conducting activities which require registration to renew its registration by filing photographs of its lobbyists, authorizations, and a registration statement between November 1 and December 31, of each even-numbered year.

Section 86107 provides that, if any change occurs in any of the information contained in a registration statement, an appropriate amendment must be filed both by online or electronic means and physically, submitting the original one copy of the amendment, in paper format, with the Secretary of State within 20 days after the change.

Lobbying firms and lobbyist employers that, during a regular session of the Legislature, cease all activity must file a notice of termination within 20 days after the cessation.

Section 86108 requires the Secretary of State to make all information listed on any registration statement and on any amendment, renewal, or notice of termination publicly available on the Internet as soon as possible after receipt.

Section 86109 provides that, within 140 days after the commencement of each regular session of the Legislature, the Secretary of State is required to publish a directory of registered individual lobbyists, lobbying firms, and lobbyist employers.

Section 86109.5 requires the Secretary of State to establish and maintain on the Internet an online listing of lobbyists, lobbying firms, and lobbyist employers.

Section 86110 states that lobbyists, lobbying firms, and lobbyist employers which receive payments, make payments or incur expenses or expect to receive payments, make payments or incur expenses in connection with activities which are reportable are required to keep detailed accounts, records, bills, and receipts.

Section 86111 defines the terms “activity expense” and “agency official.” Section 86112 states that, when a person is required to report activity expenses pursuant to this article, the following information must be provided:

  • The date and amount of each activity expense.
  • The full name and official position, if any, of the beneficiary of each expense, a description of the benefit, and the amount of benefit.
  • The full name of the payee of each expense if other than the beneficiary.
  • Any other information required by the FPPC consistent with the purposes and provisions of the PRA.

Section 86112.3 provides that each person filing a report who sends any written or printed invitation to an elected state officer, candidate for elective state office, legislative official or agency official, must include on the invitation or on a letter attached to the invitation the following typed, printed, or handwritten statement that is at least as large and readable as 8-point Roman boldface type, in a color or print that contrasts with the background so as to be easily legible:

“Attendance at this event by a public official will constitute acceptance of a reportable gift.”

Section 86112.5 requires each person filing a report to provide each beneficiary of a gift listed within the report the following information:

  • The date and amount of each gift reportable by the beneficiary.
  • A description of the goods or services provided to the beneficiary.

The above information must be provided to the beneficiary within 30 days following the end of each calendar quarter in which the gift was provided. Section 86113 requires a lobbyist to complete and verify a periodic report which contains:

  • A report of all activity expenses by the lobbyist during the reporting period; and
  • A report of all contributions of $100 or more made or delivered by the lobbyist to any elected state officer or state candidate during the reporting period.

A lobbyist is required to provide the original of the lobbyist’s periodic report to the lobbyist’s lobbyist employer or lobbying firm within two weeks following the end of each calendar quarter.

Section 86114 requires lobbying firms to file periodic reports containing all of the following:

  • The full name, address, email address, and telephone number of the lobbying firm.
  • The full name, business address, and telephone number of each person who contracted with the lobbying firm for lobbying services, a description of the specific lobbying interests of the person, and the total payments, including fees and the reimbursement of expenses, received from the person for lobbying services during the reporting period.
  • The total amount of payments received for lobbying services during the period.
  • A periodic report completed and verified by each lobbyist in the lobbying firm.
  • Each activity expense incurred by the lobbying firm including those reimbursed by a person who contracts with the lobbying firm for lobbying services.

Section 86115 requires the following persons to file required statements:

  • Any lobbyist employer; and
  • Any person who directly or indirectly makes payments to influence legislative or administrative action of $5,000 or more in value in any calendar quarter.

Section 86116 states that every person described must file periodic reports containing the following information:

  • The name, business address, email address, and telephone number of the lobbyist employer or other person filing the report.
  • The total amount of payments to each lobbying firm.
  • The total amount of all payments to lobbyists employed by the filer.
  • A description of the specific lobbying interests of the filer.
  • A periodic report completed and verified by each lobbyist employed by a lobbyist employer.
  • Each activity expense of the filer. A total of all activity expenses of the filer must also be included.
  • The date, amount, and the name of the recipient of any contribution of $100 or more made by the filer to an elected state officer, a state candidate, or a committee controlled by an elected state officer or state candidate, or a committee primarily formed to support or oppose the officer or candidate.
  • The total of all other payments to influence legislative or administrative action including overhead expenses and all payments to employees who spend 10 percent or more of their compensated time in any one month in activities related to influencing legislative or administrative action.

Section 86116.5 requires all state and local agencies that file reports must disclose, except for overhead expenses, all payments of $250 or more made in a reporting period, including, but not limited to, all of the following:

  • Goods and services used by a lobbyist or used to support or assist a lobbyist in connection with the lobbyist’s activities as a lobbyist.
  • Payments of any other expenses which would not have been incurred but for the filer’s activities to influence or attempt to influence legislative or administrative action.
  • Dues or similar payments made to any organization, including a federation, confederation, or trade, labor, or membership organization, that makes expenditures equal to 10 percent of its total expenditures, or $15,000, or more, during any calendar quarter, to influence legislative or administrative action.

Section 86117 provides that required reports are to be filed during the month following each calendar quarter. The period covered runs from the first day of January of each new biennial legislative session through the last day of the calendar quarter prior to the month during which the report is filed. Section 86118 requires reports to be filed online or electronically with the Secretary of State.

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