OPINION NUMBER - 032
ADOPTED - 1979/06/14
SUBJECT - Lobbying receipts - membership dues - duty of principal to report name and address of person paying more than $100 for lobbying purposes.
REQUESTED BY: William B. Brandt, General Counsel, Nebraska Bankers Association
QUESTION: Must a trade association, which is a principal for a lobbyist, with a variable rate dues assessment and a budget for lobbying expenditures of approximately 5% report the name and address of each member from whom it has received more than $100 in any one month for lobbying purposes on the basis of approximately 5% of the total dues assessment paid by that member exceeding $100?
The names and addresses of persons who pay membership dues to a lobbying principal do not have to be reported on the basis of any allocation of such dues being over $100 in any one month. However, the names and addresses of any such person paying over $100 in membership dues in any one month must be reported by a principal whose primary purpose or business is lobbying, including a principal whose lobbying expenditures are a half or more of its total expenditures.
Request for Advisory Opinion No. 79-6 states the following:
"We have a trade association with a variable rate dues assessment. The total overall association expenditure for lobbying would be in the area of + 5% of total budget. Some of the members' dues when approached on the basis of 5% + would exceed an allocation of $100 for that member. Dues are payable lump sum at one time.
"Would an association under section 6 of LB162 be required to report the name and address of members whose reasonable allocation of dues used for lobbying would exceed $100?"
In addition to the information set forth above we are advised that the dues of each bank member of the association are determined on the basis of the size of the bank and that the association has income other than from dues.
This matter was considered by the commission at its regular meeting on May 23, 1979, and by resolution the General Counsel was instructed to prepare an advisory opinion ruling in this case that section 6 of LB162, 1979 Legislature, does not require the reporting of the names and addresses of the members paying dues, by reason of the percentage of the budget of the principal for lobbying expenditures as applied to dues exceeding $100.
Section 6 of LB162 provides that as a part of the statement required to be filed by a principal on a monthly or interim basis, "the principal shall report the name and address of every person from whom it has received more than $100 in any one month for lobbying purposes."
Section 49-1483 provides that a principal as well as a lobbyist shall report monthly while the Legislature is in session and for the interim period between legislative sessions the "total amount received or expended directly or indirectly for the purpose of carrying on lobbying activities . . ."
LB162 was adopted by the Legislature with the emergency clause and signed by the Governor on May 22, 1979. It, among other matters, repealed section 49-1487 which required any business formed primarily for lobbying purposes to submit "a list of all individuals contributing money for the payment of expenses, fee, or salary of the lobbyist retained or employed by such business" and instead provided in section 6 for reporting by a principal as indicated above.
In this case it cannot be said that simply because 5% of the budget of the principal is for lobbying expenditures that 5% of dues received from a given member in the month of receipt, which amounts to over $100, would be directly or indirectly received for lobbying purposes in any given month. Our position is that a percentage of budget as applied to a percentage of dues is not the controlling factor in determining when the principal has to report the name and address of every person from whom it has received more than $100 in any one month.
Such reporting of names and addresses would have to be made if the primary purpose or business of the principal is lobbying, including but not limited to, situations where a half or more of the principal's expenditures are for lobbying, regardless of how that percentage affects the receipt of dues. In such situations it would not be a matter of applying a percentage against the dues to determine whether over $100 was for lobbying purposes in a given month but whether or not any amount over $100, dues or otherwise, were for the operations of the principal, except, of course, receipts which were payments for goods or services rendered in the ordinary course of the principal's other business pursuits.
In addition, of course, when over $100 is received in dues or otherwise and regardless of whether the principal's primary purpose or business is lobbying, after being solicited for lobbying purposes or applied to pay or incur lobbying expenses, whether solicited or contributed specifically for lobbying or not, a report of the names and addresses of the persons contributing over $100 in a given month would have to be made.