CEO 90-19 -- March 8, 1990
EXECUTIVE BRANCH LOBBYIST REGISTRATION
LISTING PERSONAL EXPENSES INCURRED
IN LOBBYING EXECUTIVE BRANCH AGENCIES
ON SEMIANNUAL EXPENDITURE REPORTS
To: Mr. Bram D. E. Canter, Attorney (Tallahassee)
In the context of Section 112.3215(5), Florida Statutes, "lobbying expenditures" do not include the cost of personal meals, travel, and lodging. Therefore, an executive branch lobbyist is not required to report the cost of personal meals, lodging, and travel, when filing the semi-annual expenditure report required by Section 112.3215, Florida Statutes.
Are you, an executive branch lobbyist, required to report personal expenses incurred in lobbying, such as lodging, meals, and travel expenses of the lobbyist, when filing your semi-annual expenditure reports?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry, you advise that you are an executive branch lobbyist and are required to file semiannual expenditure reports. During your lobbying activities with executive branch agencies you frequently incur expenses such as the cost of your personal meals and travel. You rarely make expenditures for executive branch employees or officers.
For example, you state that a common scenario would be for you to have lunch with an agency employee while you lobby that employee on behalf of your client. You then would pay for your own lunch and later bill the cost to your client. The agency employee would pay for his or her lunch. You wish to know if the cost of your lunch in this scenario should be reported as an expenditure.
Section 112.3215(5), Florida Statutes, provides:
A lobbyist must also submit to the commission, semiannually, a signed expenditure report summarizing his lobbying expenditures, including meals, entertainment, and gifts for public officers and employees, and the sources from which they came, for the preceding 6 months. Such expenditure report shall be due on January 1 and July 1 of each year.
In order to determine what expenditures you are required to disclose, we first must determine the meaning of the term "lobbying expenditure" in Section 112.3215(5). "Lobbies" is defined in Section 112.3215(1)(b), Florida Statutes, as
seeking, on behalf of another person, to influence an agency with respect to a decision of the agency in the area of policy or procurement.
It follows that "lobbying expenditures" would be expenses incurred in the process of seeking to influence an agency in regard to its policy or procurement.
We believe that the legislative intent in Section 112.3215(5) was to require lobbyists to disclose expenditures which may have influenced an agency, its employees, or its officials, in an area of policy or procurement. The term "lobbying expenditures" should be interpreted in light of this intent. Therefore, we do not believe that "lobbying expenditures" should be interpreted to include the personal meals, lodging, and travel expenses of the lobbyist, as these expenses usually would not have a direct impact on any agency decisions.
In interpreting "lobbying expenditures" under Section 112.3215, we are aware of the language of Section 11.045(3), Florida Statutes, which addresses the disclosure of expenditures by individuals lobbying the Legislature:
A lobbyist shall semiannually submit to the joint legislative office a signed statement under oath listing all lobbying expenditures and sources from which funds for making such expenditures have come. The statement of session expenditures shall be filed by July 15 of each year and shall include expenditures for the period from January 1 through June 30. The statement of interim expenditures shall be filed by January 15 and shall include expenditures for the period from July 1 through December 31, including expenditures for any special sessions. Lobbying expenditures shall not include personal expenses for lodging, meals, and travel. Said statements shall be rendered in the form provided by the joint legislative office and shall be open to public inspection. A statement shall be filed even if there have been no expenditures during a reporting period. [E.S.]
In Section 11.045(3), Florida Statutes, the Legislature specifically excluded personal expenses such as meals, lodging, and transportation from the definition of "lobbying expenditures." Section 112.3215(5) does not contain this language.
This language appears to clarify the term "lobbying expenditure" in Section 11.045(3), Florida Statutes. We therefore do not view the omission of this language from Section 112.3215(5), Florida Statutes, as necessarily altering the meaning of "lobbying expenditures." In the latter section, rather, we do not believe the Legislature intended for personal meals, travel, and lodging to constitute a "lobbying expenditure" under Section 112.3215(5).
Accordingly, we find that the current language of Section 112.3215(5), Florida Statutes, does not require disclosure of your personal travel, meals, and lodging. We have recommended in our 1990 legislative package, however, that Section 112.3215(5) be amended to exempt the disclosure of personal expenses such as meals, transportation, and lodging, in order to eliminate any question regarding the interpretation of this statutory section.