: You are a lawyer in private practice, representing a developer who is seeking approval of a Planned Unit Development proposal from the City Council of Coon Rapids, Minnesota. In preparation for your presentation to the Council, you have billed your client for 20 hours of work at your customary rate of $200 per hour. Coon Rapids, Minnesota has a population of more than 64,000 residents. Are you a “lobbyist” and is your developer-client a “lobbyist-principal”?
Jeanne Olson, Executive Director of the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board, suggested to a CLE audience this morning that the answer to these questions may be “Yes.”
As Director Olson noted, Chapter 10A of Minnesota Statutes has broad definitions
of both the term “lobbyists” and “metropolitan governmental unit” – and could reach activities that are far from the halls of the State Capitol. “Lobbyists” include those who receive more than $3,000 for “attempting to influence legislative or administrative action, or the official action of a metropolitan governmental unit,” and “metropolitan governmental unit” includes cities with a population of greater 50,000.
The implications for lawyers and clients with business before government officials could be profound. Some examples of state-imposed restrictions on lobbyists include:
(a) registration and reporting requirements;
(b) restrictions on gifts to “public officials;”
(c) restrictions on contributions to candidates during the legislative session;
(d) requirements that lobbyists note their registration numbers on donations made to certain candidate committees; and,
(e) special aggregation rules for the contributions to candidate committees from lobbyists.