May 6, 2008

By: Laurence D. Laufer and Jisha V. Dymond

NY Rules on Receptions at Party Conventions

We’re continuing our look at restrictions applicable to lobbyists paying for receptions at the national party conventions. We’ve covered federally registered lobbyists and officials; this week we take a look at New York. Under the NYS Lobbying Act, registered lobbyists and their clients may not make or offer gifts to New York public officials “unless under the circumstances it is not reasonable to infer that the gift was intended to influence such public official.” Exempted from the definition of gift, however, is complimentary attendance (including food and beverage) at a bona fide political event or complimentary attendance offered by the event sponsor at a “widely attended” event. In a 2004 advisory opinion, the former Temporary State Commission on Lobbying (which has been succeeded by the Commission on Public Integrity) held that a reception or event during a 2004 national party convention did not fit within the widely attended event exception because there was no “official relation” between the public official’s duties and attendance at the event. In the same advisory opinion, the former Commission stated that such an event would qualify for the political event exception only if it is “hosted by or financially benefits a political party, an elected official, a candidate for public office, or a campaign committee of a candidate for public office.” Thus it’s possible that if a reception invite were to list a political party or an elected official as a host of the reception, then NY public officials could attend the reception under the “political event” exception. Note: the Commission on Public Integrity has advised that advisory opinions issued by the New York Temporary State Commission on Lobbying have not been rescinded to the extent they are consistent with current law and are currently under review.

Tag: New York State