State of Alaska

Department of Administration

Alaska Public Offices Commission

Alaska Department of Administration, Alaska Public Offices Commission

Lobbying

  1. What types of activities count toward the ten-hour in any 30-day period threshold?
  2. Why does the statute apply a ten-hour threshold?
  3. Am I allowed to make campaign contributions?
  4. Am I allowed to give a gift to a legislator or legislative staff member?
  5. What are the reporting requirements when hiring assistant lobbyists?
  6. Does APOC send out reminders to ensure that reports are submitted on time?

What types of activities count toward the ten-hour in any 30-day period statutory threshold that determines whether a person doing part-time lobbying must register as a lobbyist and report to APOC?

Meeting with, having telephone conversations with, or exchanging e-mail messages with public officials all count toward the ten-hour in any 30-day period threshold. Testifying before a legislative committee and meeting with administration officials and/or legislators to work on new or pending legislation are also activities that count toward the ten hours. If, however, you have been invited by a legislative committee to provide testimony, AS 24.45.161 provides that the time you spend testifying is exempt. The statutes do not provide the same exemption for invitations from the governor or other members of the executive branch. Meetings with the governor or other executive branch public officials, even done at their invitation, must be counted toward the ten hours if the meetings are to discuss administrative or legislative action.

Time spent waiting to meet with a public official or waiting to testify does not count towards the ten hours. Time spent writing letters or public opinion messages to public officials is also exempt.

Why does the statute apply a ten-hour threshold to determine whether I have to register as a lobbyist [AS 24.45.171 (11)(A)] but then say that I am prohibited from "engaging in any activity as a lobbyist before registering …" [AS 24.45.121(a)(1)]? This appears contradictory.

The ten hour threshold is used to determine when someone who lobbies only part-time is required to register with APOC and file subsequent reports. The other part of the statutory definition of a lobbyist that triggers the requirement to register is a person who “represents oneself as engaging in the influencing of legislative or administrative action as a business, occupation, or profession” [AS 24.45.171(10)(B)]. These are often referred to as "professional lobbyists." The ten-hour threshold does not apply to a professional lobbyist, who must register with APOC prior to engaging in any lobbying.

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As a registered lobbyist am I allowed to make campaign contributions and if so, are these reportable to APOC?

Yes, registered lobbyists may contribute to municipal, federal and state-wide candidates (i.e. governor or lieutenant governor). You may also contribute to state legislative candidates, but only to those candidates running for the district in which you are eligible to vote. All contributions to legislative candidates must be reported to the Commission within 30 days of making the contributions on APOC form 15-5A, available on the APOC website. You are also required to report within 30 days any contributions of $500 or more to a group organized for the principal purpose of influencing the outcome of a ballot proposition. You are not required to report state-wide, federal or municipal candidate contributions.

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Are lobbyists allowed to give a gift to a legislator or legislative staff member?

Under the comprehensive ethics reform bill passed by the Alaska legislature in 2007, the only gifts lobbyists may present to legislators or legislative employees are 1) food and beverages for immediate consumption 2) Tickets to a charity event when the event has been pre-approved by the legislative counsel and 3) compassionate gifts ("… intended to aid or comfort … in contending with a catastrophe, a tragedy, or a health-related emergency" Please see AS 24.60.075.

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I’m a registered lobbyist and I want to hire a person to assist me in lobbying for my clients. What are the reporting requirements?

As a registered lobbyist you must continue to file regular lobbyist reports. However, you are also an employer of a lobbyist, whether the individual you hire works for you under contract or as an employee. As an employer, you also must file quarterly employer reports. Your employee must register as a lobbyist, listing you as the employer, and he/she must file regular lobbyist reports.

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The reporting requirements and due dates are a lot to remember, particularly in years where there is a special legislative session. Does APOC send out the forms and regular reminders to ensure that reports are submitted on time?

Once a lobbyist registers with APOC, the lobbyist and employer email addresses are added to a lobbying email list. This list is used to e-mail reminders to all lobbyists and employers of lobbyists approximately one-two weeks before the next report is due. Staff also uses this same email list to send out important messages impacting lobbyists and employers of lobbyists. Examples include any form changes, special session reporting instructions, law changes and advisory opinions issued by the Commission or by the legislative ethics committee that impact lobbyists. Although APOC sends out email reminders as a courtesy to filers, it is ultimately the responsibility of the lobbyist or employer of lobbyists to ensure they are in compliance with filing reports on time. If reports are received past the due date, filers are assessed a civil penalty of $10 for each day a report is delinquent. Please see AS 24.45.141.

All required forms for lobbyists and employers, along with the annual reporting calendar specifying report due dates are located on the APOC web site. Staff will also provide telephonic and/or in person technical assistance to filers who have questions about reporting requirements and processes.

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