This new interpretation is consistent with Common Cause's view of the statute and that of Governor Patrick’s former chief legal counsel Ben Clements, who chaired the Governor's task force on Public Integrity and wrote the original legislation along with other members of the task force. Attorney Clements is mentioned in the letter.
The opinion also clarifies the issue of whether non-profit board members who lobby on behalf of their non-profit have to register as lobbyists. It states that when a Board member is not compensated by the non-profit, despite being a salaried employee of another corporation, he or she does not have to register.
… “a board member, who is a salaried employee of a corporation separate from the board, lobbies on the board’s behalf but is not compensated by the board for his efforts. Whereas the above-referenced individual is not compensated for his efforts and has no ownership interest in the non-profit board, he does not fall within the definition of legislative or executive agent.”
Cote’s January 21st letter provides direct answers to the questions posed, and therefore represents a step forward for the office. Common Cause is hopeful that future opinions will be similarly responsive.
Who meets with policy makers, writes them, etc. is also not a lobbyist. For those citizens, it is not a “job”, not reimbursed, not even subject to anyone else’s votes or oversight. I gather unpaid volunteers who are trying to work for change but never see a penny or even a burger for their pains are not lobbyists, either.
p>That’s right Amberpaw.
p>And a citizen, paid or reimbursed more than $2500 in 6 months and who has at least one direct communication with an elected or appointed official has to register as a legislative and/or administrative lobbyist and report on her/his expenses and name every policy maker she/he met with over each 6 months of the year.
p>But any citizen (or non citizen for that matter) who never had a single conversation with an elected or appointed official but spent a lot of time organizing(identifying, training and mobilizing)hundreds of ordinary people to meet in the district with their own legislative delegations to communicate “the will of their own organization” does not.
p>And yet that’s where the real power lies — in the ability of a paid registered lobbyist or unpaid organizational volunteer to organize and mobilize a district based network of affected constituents willing and able to talk with with their own legislator about a proposed solution to a compelling sympathetic problem that them and representing themselves as a critical mass of the legislator’s district. constituents.
p>Organize, organize, organize………….