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.