How does the New Lobbying Legislation Apply to Research, Writing & Strategizing

  • Question: I work for an environmental non-profit organization as a researcher. I review and analyze data and write reports for the organization for many different purposes. Sometimes, my organization uses my research or reports as the basis for drafting legislation or environmental regulations. I also occasionally write op-eds about my research and give briefings to the general public. I do not write to or talk with legislators or regulators about my research and reports or otherwise engage in lobbying for my organization. The organization has a registered lobbyist who does that work. Do I have to register as a lobbyist?
    • Answer: No. Regardless of how much time you spend preparing, or how much you are paid for, your research or reports that are used by others in connection with legislation or you are not considered a lobbyist and, therefore, do not have to register. Why? Because you have not had “at least 1 lobbying communication with a government employee.’ If you never have a lobbying communication with a government employee about the research or other issues for your employer, you will not have to register as a lobbyist.If you did have a lobbying communication with a legislator or other government employee about legislation drafted by the organization, you would have to register as a lobbyist unless, during a six-month reporting period, your lobbying activities are “incidental,” i.e. you engage in them for less than 25 hours and are paid less than $2,500 for the hours you work on lobbying. Your research and report writing, as well as any strategizing, would be considered as lobbying activities if they were “performed in connection with or for use in an actual communication with a government employee.”