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Indiana Lobby Registration Commission

ILRC > Advisory Opinions > Final Advisory Opinions > FINAL ADVISORY OPINION 2002-1 Advisory Opinions

FINAL ADVISORY OPINION 2002-01:
Corporate Grassroots Lobbying

Indiana Lobby Registration Commission

(Decision whether to ratify FAO made at public meeting of March 6, 2003)

Vote to Ratify FAO:

Chairman Abbs - yes
Vice-Chairman Krahulik - yes
Commissioner Torke - yes
Commissioner Heeke -yes

Questions and written comments may be directed to Indiana Lobby Registration Commission, 10 W Market St, Ste 1760, Indianapolis, IN 46204 (317) 232-9860


Facts Presented:

Corporation X intends to engage in the following grassroots activities:

  • Send postcards to people urging them to contact state officials/legislators to either support or oppose proposed or pending legislation.

  • Send pre-printed postcards, ready for mailing to specified state officials/legislators, to people urging them to sign their names and forward the postcards to the designated recipient.

  • Hire a consultant to go door-to-door and call individuals and retailers of Corporation X's product to urge them to contact state officials/legislators to support or oppose proposed or pending legislation.

  • Contract with a vendor of phone-banking services to call individuals and retailers of Corporation X's product to urge them to contact state officials/legislators to support or oppose proposed or pending legislation. Before completing the phone call, the vendor may also offer to immediately connect the recipient of the call directly to a state official/legislator.

Analysis:

The ILRC is mindful of the public policy objectives of the Indiana Lobby Disclosure Statute. The ILRC also recognizes the rights of citizens to petition the government with minimal interference and burden. This advisory opinion seeks to answer very specific facts presented on matters relating to corporate grassroots lobbying. This opinion is not directed to a public citizen who engages in lobbying activity, but who receives nothing of value and who is not an otherwise registered lobbyist. Such a person does not have to register and report under Indiana's Lobby Disclosure Statute.

The communications between a citizen and a legislator are not within the umbrella of Indiana's Lobby Disclosure Statute. As a result, when Corporation X sends postcards to people urging them to contact state legislators to either support or oppose proposed or pending legislation, it is not a reportable event in Indiana. Likewise, it is not a reportable event in Indiana when Corporation X hires a consultant to go door-to-door and call individuals and retailers of Corporation X's product to urge them to contact legislative officials to support or oppose proposed or pending legislation.

When Corporation X sends pre-printed postcards, ready for mailing to specified state legislators, to people urging them to sign their names and forward the postcards to the designated recipient, Corporation X is attempting direct communication with legislators through a citizen-agent. This is a reportable event under Indiana's Lobby Disclosure Statute.

If Corporation X contracts with a vendor of a phone-banking service to call individuals and retailers of Corporation X's product to urge them to contact state legislators to support or oppose proposed or pending legislation, this will not in and of itself trigger a registration duty. If before completing the phone call, the service also offers to immediately connect the recipient of the call directly to a state legislator, direct communication with a legislator is part of the activity and a registration duty has arisen.

In both situations where reporting is required, it is Corporation X that must register and report. Where the phone-banking service is to connect people to legislators directly, the service must register and report. The non-paid citizen-agent has no duty to register and report.