- 1. Who must register as a lobbyist or an employer of a lobbyist?
A lobbyist is a person who communicates, directly or indirectly, with state government officials for the purpose of influencing action by the official for compensation. (T.C.A. § 3‐6‐301(15) and (17)) The term lobbyist does not include an employee of a governmental entity. However, a third party contracted to lobby for governmental entity is included in the definition of lobbyist. (T.C.A. § 3‐6‐301(17))
Employer of a lobbyist or employer is any person or entity that employs, retains, or otherwise arranges for a lobbyist to engage in lobbying on behalf of the person or entity for compensation. T.C.A. § 3‐6‐301(7). Entities not included in the definition of “employer” for registration purposes include:
- Governmental entities. (T.C.A. §3‐6‐301(15))
- A person or entity that utilizes the services of a volunteer lobbyist whose reimbursement for out‐of‐pocket expenditures does not exceed ten (10) days. See Manual for Lobbyists and Employers of Lobbyists for definition of volunteer lobbyist.
- 2. Where does a lobbyist or an employer of a lobbyist register?
Registrations are filed electronically through the Commission’s website (https://apps.tn.gov/ilobby/).
- 3. When must a lobbyist or an employer of a lobbyist register?
Lobbyists and employers of lobbyists are required to register, each calendar year, not later than seven (7) days after becoming a lobbyist or an employer of a lobbyist. Note that it is not an act of lobbying which triggers the requirement to register, but the act of accepting employment/retainer of employment. (See Advisory Opinion 06‐01.) For the purpose of employer registration requirements, the lobbyist has been employed whether the engagement is formal or informal, written or oral. A separate registration is required for each lobbyist employed.
As part of the registration process, a lobbyist must submit a current photographic portrait to the Commission within thirty (30) calendar days after registration. This portrait should be submitted in jpeg or gif format, be smaller than 5 megabytes in size, and for best appearance, be 180 by 255 pixels. Portraits should be e‐mailed to the Commission at email@example.com.
- 4. Is there a registration fee?
A lobbyist must pay $150 for each registration submitted. An employer of a lobbyist must pay $150 for each registration submitted. Payment may be submitted online by credit card or by check within 30 days of registration.
- 5. Are lobbyists and employers of lobbyists required to complete an ethics course and how often?
A lobbyist is required to take an annual ethics training course. T.C.A. § 3-6-114(b) The course is offered electronically. Beginning with 2012, a lobbyist may also attend one of the annual ethics courses provided for members of the general assembly. The cost of the training course is $40 and is due at the time of the first registration. Employers of lobbyists may, but are not required, to complete an ethics course.
- 6. What reports must be filed by a lobbyist and an employer of a lobbyist?
An employer of a lobbyist is required to file a semi-annual Lobbying Expenditure Report. This report is filed electronically through the Commission’s website (https://apps.tn.gov/ilobby/). The reports cover the periods January 1 through June 30 (due by August 14) and July 1 through December 31 (due by February 14).
A lobbyist who is a member of a commission established by and responsible to the general assembly or is a member of a state regulatory commission must file a Sworn Disclosure of Consulting Services form (http://www.tn.gov/assets/entities/tec/attachments/forms/ss-8006 Consulting Services.pdf). The employer of a lobbyist who has employed such lobbyist must also file the form.
A lobbyist or an employer of a lobbyist who pays for an in-state event must submit a copy of the invitation within seven (7) days before the event. Within thirty (30) days after the event, an in-state event disclosure form (http://www.tn.gov/assets/entities/tec/attachments/forms/ss-8007.pdf), reporting the costs of the event must be filed with the Commission.
A lobbyist must report any gifts that are made to an official in the legislative or executive branch or to his or her family member who attends an event and accepts a gift that is provided by a person or entity not subject to the prohibition set forth in T.C.A. § 3-6-305(a). See T.C.A. § 3-6-305(c) (http://tn.gov/sos/tec/forms/ss-8008.pdf)
- 7. How does the Commission notify a lobbyist or employer of lobbyist that a registration, fee, report, etc. is due?
The Commission sends email notifications to lobbyists and employers. Therefore, it is important that
email contact information in the iLobby system be kept up to date.
- 8. Are there restrictions on what a lobbyist or employer of lobbyist can do?
Yes, T.C.A. § 3-6-304 provides specific prohibitions on lobbyists and employers of lobbyists, including prohibitions on campaign contributions. Gift prohibitions and exceptions to the prohibitions are covered under T.C.A. § 3-6-305. See Manual for Lobbyists and Employers of Lobbyists for details on these prohibitions and exceptions, including the exceptions for in-state events.
- 9. What happens if a lobbyist or employer of a lobbyist does not pay registration fees on time or file reports on time?
T.C.A. § 3-6-306 provides that the Commission may assess a civil penalty of $25.00 per day up to a maximum of $750.00 if a lobbyist or employer of lobbyist:
- fails to timely register or timely update a registration;
- fails to timely pay registration fees;
- fails to timely file the lobbying expenditure report.
Further, the statute provides that the Commission may assess a civil penalty, not to exceed $10,000.00, if a lobbyist or employer of lobbyist:
- files information knowing or having reason to know that the information is inaccurate or incomplete;
- utilizes the services of a lobbyist or engages in lobbying for an employer knowing or having reason to know that the lobbyist or employer is not registered
- knowingly violates any provision of § 3-6-304 or § 3-6-305. However, the Commission may only assess a civil penalty up to two hundred percent (200%) of the value of any gift or $25.00, whichever is greater. See Manual for Lobbyists and Employers of Lobbyists.
- 10. When does a lobbyist or employer of lobbyist registration expire?
Registrations are based on a calendar year and expire on December 31 if not withdrawn earlier.
- 11. How does a lobbyist or employer of lobbyist withdraw a registration?
Log in to your iLobby account (https://apps.tn.gov/ilobby/) and click on the date of the registration. Click on the “withdraw” button at the bottom of the registration and submit.