I got a couple of emails from some clients who received the PIC’s newsletter (2nd installment). The comments were the same. Are you serious? This is what our tax dollars pay for? Telling us to hit the print button to print our reports?
Yup that’s about all you can expect from the gang that just doesn’t seem to have a clue how they are perceived by the lobbying public.
So in the spirit of giving something back to the industry that has given me so much I’m going to publish my tip on late fees and the commission.
As I’ve blogged before the commission does not have a legal basis to impose late fees on registration amendments. Don’t believe me ask special counsel Ralph if they have ever imposed a late fee on a termination that was not submitted within the 30 days as required by the statute. The answer if Ralph decides to tell the truth will be no, nope, never the commission has never done it. WHY? Because the statute does not provide for it. What’s the difference between late fees for registration amendments and terminations? None as far as I can tell. Neither is authorized in statute.
But it gets better. In preparation for the fight I am looking forward to having with the commission over lifetime bar threats and the late fees I am representing clients on I took a close look at Ralph’s late fee letters and the statute. Here’s what I found:
Ralphs late fee letters for registration amendments state “Any amendment to the information filed by a lobbyist in the original statement of registration must be submitted to the Commission within ten days after such amended information is known or should have been known by the filer (Section 1-e(d)).(emphasis added)
Where does Ralph find that language in the statute? He doesn’t he made it up its what he wants it to say not what it actually says. Far be it for me to say Ralph is a sloppy lawyer. I’ll let anyone who has dealt with him draw their own conclusions but if I got a late fee for a registration amendment I would not pay it and ask the AG to show you where the authorization comes from and while you’re at it ask them if they know where Ralph found the language in his letter.
And one more thing since most of the late fees on registration amendments are the result of contract extensions that are filed more than 10 days after the start of the extension think about this you didn’t need to amend your registration at all for a contract extension. You are already registered for the biannual term and the statute only requires an amendment to the information in the registration. There are seven pieces of information required to be in the registration by statute and the term of the contract IS NOT ONE OF THEM. If you extend the term you have not amended the information in the registration therefore the statute does not require an amendment.
1. You are not required by statute to amend your registration for a contract extension.
2. Amendments are not required with 10 days of when you should have known of them as the oracle of Broadway (Ralph) states but rather within 10 days of the actual amendment.
3. You cannot be issued a late fee for registration amendments or terminations because the statute does not authorize it.
4. The statute does not authorize it because your registration remains in effect for the biannual period unless YOU terminate it. It is not terminated by the terms of your contract and the commission will never terminate it for you they don’t have that power. And before the special counsel says you can’t lobby without a contract. I would ask where in the statute does it say that you need a contract to lobby? All it says is that you need to attach a written contract if you have one to your registration if you don’t then you have to attach an authorization to you registration. There is no prohibition against lobbying without a contract just a penalty for failure to timely register.
Sorry Ralph I know it’s not what you think it should be but it is what the statute says.
As an aside Ralph as I told you when I was your boss at the lobby commission (and hiring you has turned into the old adage no good turn goes unpunished) stop trying to tell the lobbying industry how to run their business and focus on the lobby law. If you had been any good at the business end you would still be in private practice not hanging out at 677 Prime and The Old Dailey in on your state lunch half hour. Go easy on the libations people notice.
Hope those of you in the business found these tips more helpful than the press print advice the commission gave you. See you all at the commission meeting next week.