Did You Pay for a Lobbyist’s Services Last Year? Annual Lobbyist Employer Report Due February 29!

If you have a lobbyist on staff or paid for an outside lobbyist’s services, you must file an annual Lobbying Expenses report (Form L-3) with the PDC by February 29, 2016. This form may be completed online or mailed in.

RCW 42.17A.005(30) defines “lobbying” as attempting to influence the passage or defeat of any legislation by the legislature of the state of Washington, or the adoption or rejection of any rules or standards of any state agency under the state administrative procedure act. (Remember that “lobbying” does not include your union’s act of communicating with your own members, even if you are actively encouraging them to engage in acts that would be lobbying if done by you.) RCW 42.17A.055(32) defines lobbyist employers as those who employ, hire or pay the compensation or other consideration of a lobbyist.

Lobbyist employers also have certain monthly PDC reporting requirements. When the lobbyist employer makes political contributions, the contributions must be reported by either the lobbyist (on the L-2) or by the lobbyist’s employer (on the L-3c). This report must include the value of not only the union’s monetary contributions to its own PAC or any other political committee, but also the value of the union’s staff time and other union resources that were devoted to assisting PAC operations (including the operation of its own PAC). The union does not have to report the value of time or money that it has donated to its non-reporting separate segregated fund (SSF).

Then, by the last day of February following any year in which reportable lobbying expenditures occurred, each lobbyist employer must file one L-3 report showing total reportable lobbying expenditures incurred during the year. This year, the due date for L-3 reports to be submitted falls on February 29, 2016 (the date it must be either submitted electronically, or postmarked if mailed).

This report recaps information already reported (or that should have been reported) on the lobbyist’s monthly expenditure reports (L-2), on employer monthly contribution reports ( L-3c), and/or independent campaign expenditure reports previously filed by the union, if any ( C-6). It also includes other lobbying expenses incurred directly by the employer, as well as important information about business relationships with legislators and other state officials. Each lobbyist employer must file an L-3 report even if it shows no payments to or on behalf of the lobbyist (that is, it's a “zero” report).

Reports are considered filed as of the postmark date or, if filed electronically, on the file transfer date. A PDF version of this form is available here

If you need more specific information regarding this reporting requirement, or on any other issue related to campaign finance, don’t go it alone. Be sure to give us a call so we can get you the answers you need.