Georgia Lobbying Registration and Reporting

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Lobbyist Registration
Any person engaged in the act of lobbying must register with the State Ethics Commission of Georgia (the “Commission”) as a lobbyist.  After registration, the Commission will issue to the registrant a lobbyist identification card, which must be displayed while such registrant is engaged in lobbying in any government facility.  Lobbyists are required to file supplemental registrations within seven (7) days of any substantial or material change or addition to original registrations.  Lobbyist registrations expire annually.
 
“Lobbying” means the performance of any of the following activities by any natural person:
  1. Undertaking, for compensation, either individually or as an employee of another person or the executive or legislative branches of the state government, to promote or oppose the passage of any legislation by the General Assembly, or any committee thereof, or the approval or veto of legislation by the Governor;
  2. Making a total expenditure of more than $250.00 in a calendar year, not including the person’s own travel, food, lodging expenses, or informational material, to promote or oppose the passage of any legislation by the General Assembly, or any committee thereof, or the approval or veto of legislation by the Governor;
  3. Undertaking, for compensation, either individually or as an employee of another person or the executive or legislative branches of the state government, to promote or oppose the passage of any ordinance or resolution by an elected county official, member of a local board of education, or municipal official, or any committee of such public officers, or the approval or veto of any such ordinance or resolution;
  4. Making a total expenditure of more than $250.00 in a calendar year, not including the person’s own travel, food, lodging expenses, or informational material, to promote or oppose the passage of any ordinance or resolution by an elected county official, member of a local board of education, or municipal official, or any committee of such public officers, or the approval or veto of any such ordinance or resolution;
  5. Undertaking, for compensation, either individually or as an employee of another person hired specifically for such undertaking, to influence a public officer or state agency in the selection of a vendor to supply any goods or services to any state agency but does not include any employee of the vender solely on the basis that such employee participates in soliciting a bid or in preparing a written bid, written proposal, or other document relating to a potential sale to a state agency; or
  6. Undertaking, for compensation, either individually or as an employee of another person hired specifically for such undertaking, to promote or oppose the passage of any rule or regulation of any state agency.
Organization Filings
No organization filings are required for lobbyists in Georgia; however, lobbyists are required to submit, as part of the registration process, a statement signed by the organization or person authorizing them to lobby on its behalf.

Lobbyist Filings
Lobbyists are required to file disclosure reports with the Commission and to file a copy of the report with the election superintendent of each county involved if the report contains expenditures relating to county or county school district affairs, and to file a copy of the report with the municipal clerk (or if there is no municipal clerk, with the chief executive officer of the municipality) of each municipality involved if the report contains any expenditures relating to municipal affairs or independent school district affairs.  The filing deadlines vary based on the type of lobbying, the time of year lobbying takes place, and whether there is a special session, and can range from once per month to twice per year; penalties apply for late filings.

Link to Instructions and Forms
http://ethics.georgia.gov/references/publications.aspx#lo

Lobby Gifts and Expenditure Restrictions
Georgia law requires lobbyists to account for all expenditures in disclosure reports.  “Expenditures” are defined as any “purchase, payment, distribution, loan, advance, deposit, or conveyance of money or anything of value for the purpose of influencing the actions of any public officer or public employee; . . . any other form of payment when such can be reasonably construed as designed to encourage or influence a public officer; . . . [and] any gratuitous transfer, payment, subscription, advance, or deposit of money, services, or anything of value, unless consideration of equal or greater value is received.”  The term “expenditures” also includes food or beverages consumed at a meal or event by a public officer or employee or a member of his family outside of the “normal and customary business or social functions or activities.”
In accounting for expenditures, lobbyists must provide, in part, the following information:
  1. The name and title of the public officer or, if the expenditure is simultaneously incurred for an identifiable group of public officers the individual identification of whom would be impractical, a general description of that identifiable group;
  2. The amount, date, and description of the expenditure and a summary of all spending classified by category. Such categories shall include gifts, meals, entertainment, lodging, equipment, advertising, travel, and postage;
  3. If applicable, the number of the bill, resolution, ordinance, or regulation pending before the governmental entity in support of or opposition to which the expenditure was made;
  4. If applicable, the rule or regulation number or description of the rule or regulation pending before the state agency in support of or opposition to which the expenditure was made;
  5. If applicable, the name of any vendor or vendors for which the lobbyist undertook to influence the awarding of a contract or contracts by any state agency together with a description of the contract or contracts and the monetary amount of the contract or contracts; and
  6. If applicable, the name of the individual or entity for which the lobbyist undertook to influence the rule or regulation of a state agency.
Penalties
Any person failing to comply with or violating any provisions of Georgia law regarding lobbying shall be subject to a civil penalty of up to $2,000.00 per violation and/or have his lobbyist registration denied, suspended, or revoked by the Commission for a period of up to one (1) year. 

Resources
The State Ethics Commission of Georgia Internet website can be found at http://ethics.ga.gov/
The applicable statutes and rules can be found at  http://www.ethics.state.ga.us/references/pdf/EthicsInGovernmentAct.pdf

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