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Advisory Opinion No. 1994-11

Advisory Opinion No. 1994-11

Interpretation Of Term “Organized Primarily For The
Purpose Of Lobbying” As Used In Conn. Gen. Stat.

Paul L. McCormick, a registered lobbyist, has asked several questions regarding the interpretation of the term “organized primarily for the purpose of lobbying” as used in Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-95(a)(3).  That section reads in part:  “If the registrant is formed primarily for the purpose of lobbying, it shall disclose the name and address of any person contributing one thousand dollars or more to the registrant’s lobbying activities in any calendar year.”  Under §1-92-46a of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, “[t]he word ‘primarily’…is construed according to its commonly understood meaning (i.e., chiefly, principally, or in the main.)  For example, groups organized around a single issue or piece of legislation (e.g., abortion rights, income tax, Senate Bill No. 3000) would be considered ‘formed primarily for lobbying.’”

Specifically, Mr. McCormick has asked:  (1) if a client lobbyist is organized in Connecticut and its Connecticut activities are primarily lobbying, must it comply with the reporting requirements of §1-95(a)(3) even if 80% of its overall activities are outside Connecticut (whether or not those outside activities involve lobbying); (2) must the reporting requirements be met by an entity organized outside Connecticut whose Connecticut activities involve primarily lobbying but whose activities outside the state are not related to lobbying, and; (3) if a company initially was organized primarily for lobbying, but its lobbying activity subsequently becomes only a minor part of the company’s activities, must the company continue to comply with the reporting requirements of §1-95(a)(3)?

As a preliminary matter, while the Commission can provide some basic guidelines to help determine whether an entity is organized primarily for the purpose of lobbying, such guidelines will not address every possible situation.  A Commission determination of whether an entity need comply with this particular reporting requirement will be based on the totality of the circumstances surrounding the lobbying activity, rather than on an inflexible specific percentage of the overall activity which must be lobbying-related.  Thus, if it is unclear whether an organization needs to comply with the requirements of §1-95(a)(3), the Commission staff should be contacted for assistance in making the determination.

Turning to Mr. McCormick’s first and second questions, in general, regardless of whether a corporation is organized in Connecticut, if 80% of the corporation’s activities both within and outside of Connecticut involve lobbying or activities in furtherance of lobbying, then the corporation must comply with §1-95(a)(3).  If 80% of the corporation’s overall activities, whether within or outside of Connecticut, are not lobbying-related, even if most of its Connecticut activity is so related, then the corporation need not comply with §1-95(a)(3).  There may, however, be specific factual situations which will not fit the general rule.  For example, if an entity is incorporated in Connecticut at the beginning of a legislative session which promises to address an issue of vital interest to the organizers, the entity would have to comply with §1-95(a)(3) even if its activities in that year subsequently expand to include a majority of out-of-state nonlobbying activity.  This is so because the entity’s initial primary purpose was lobbying.

This leads to Mr. McCormick’s third question, which is, in effect, when does the duty to comply with §1-95(a)(3) end if the entity in question was initially organized primarily for lobbying but subsequently alters its activities?  This question may best be answered with an example.  If a corporation wished to build a factory in Connecticut to manufacture baseballs, but needed to change a state law before any construction could begin, and the corporation had little or no other interests either in Connecticut or elsewhere, the company would have to comply with §1-95(a)(3) for that year.  If, however, the lobbying campaign was successful, the company was able to build its factory, and lobbying was no longer its primary purpose, the §1-95(a)(3) requirement would not extend to the next year.  In short, if a company is at one time organized primarily for lobbying, but thereafter lobbying becomes a secondary activity, it need only comply with §1-95(a)(3) for the year(s) in which lobbying was its primary function for at least a part of the year.  Similarly, if an entity which was originally organized for other purposes becomes primarily concerned with lobbying, the requirements of §1-95(a)(3) will apply when appropriate.

By order of the Commission,

Christopher T. Donohue