The public integrity commission recently sent out letters charging the lobbying community thousands of dollars in late fees for what it terms late filings. Some folks got late fees for filing just one day late. . .The problem with that you ask? The commission can’t add. When it comes to how long you have to file a statement of registration the statute says “for those lobbyists retained, employed or designated after the previous December fifteenth . . . such filing must be completed within fifteen days thereafter” Seems simple you get a lobbying contract on the first day of the month you have 15 days thereafter to file your statement of registration. Get it done by the 16th you should be ok. NOT SO FAST the commission counts the 1st as day 1 and you have to file by the 15th or you are late. If the commission ran a delivery service one day delivery would mean same day and when the sheriff says you have one day to get out of town he really means get out of town today.
If the commissions inability to count is not bad enough they also imposed late fees on those folks in the lobbying community who corrected, changed or supplemented the information in their filings but did so more than 10 days after the commission decided they should have. Seems harsh but within the commission’s power . . . The problem with that you ask? The commission does not have the statutory authority to issue late fees for amendments of a statement of registration. If you got a late fee for an amendment ask commission counsel Ralph Miccio to show you the language in the statute that authorizes a late fee for an amendment. My guess is he points out section 1-e(d) that says you have 10 days to amend information found in the registration statement but remind him that section does not provide for late fees. Late fees are authorized ONLY for late registration statements (and then only with normal math not the commissions 1 + 1 = 3 approach).
And to wrap it up, folks do make mistakes, for example the old lobby commission once printed an annual report that referred to one commissioner’s long history of “public” service as “pubic” service, mistakes happen as this commission has proved repeatedly. My advice to clients who make a mistake in filing is always ask the commission to treat you as if you sleep with the boss. If Mr. Ginsberg’s wife didn’t pay a late fee for getting her lobby authorization in late why should you? And shouldn’t we all get that helpful phone call reminding us what to do if we make a mistake like she did?