REQUESTED BY: The Honorable Frank Lewis, Senator, 45th District
QUESTION: Are contributions by corporations, labor organizations, or industry, trade or professional associations to the Midwestern Conference of the Council of State Governments subject to being reported as contributions by a corporation pursuant to Section 49-1469 of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act or as lobbying expenditures pursuant to the provisions of Section 49-1483?
In the Senator's letter of March 6, 1979, we are advised that Nebraska will be hosting a convention for the Midwestern Conference of the Council of State Governments, that contributions will be sought from various corporations, some of which may be principals of registered lobbyists. We are further advised that the Midwestern Conference of the Council of State Governments is a regional division of the Council of State Governments, that the Council of State Governments was issued a letter by the Internal Revenue Service on June 27, 1962, recognizing it as an exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and that contributions thereto are tax deductible.
Section 49-1469(1) requires a corporation, labor organization, or industry, trade or professional association, which makes a contribution, expenditure, or provides voluntary personal services, to file a report within 10 days of such contribution, expenditure or services with the commission.
Section 49-1415 defines a contribution to mean a payment. . . made for the purpose of influencing the nomination or election of a candidate, or for the qualification, passage, or defeat of a ballot question.
Section 49-1419 defines an expenditure to mean a payment . . . for goods, materials, services, or facilities in assistance of, or in opposition to, the nomination or election of a candidate, or the qualification, passage or defeat of a ballot question and includes a contribution.
However, subsection (4) of Section 49-1419 sets forth a definition of expenditure for purposes of the lobbying sections of the act. We have, therefore, taken the position that the reporting requirements of Section 49-1469(1) require the reporting of campaign expenditures and not lobbying expenditures. Therefore, any contributions by corporations, labor organizations, or industry, trade, or professional association for this conference made directly to the Midwestern Conference of the Council of State Governments are not campaign contributions or expenditures and do not have to be reported by such organizations.
As far as lobbying expenditures are concerned, if the expenditure is a contribution by a corporation, labor organization or any other person, which is a principal for a registered lobbyist, made directly to the Midwestern Conference of the Council of State Governments, we believe that it would not be a lobbying expenditure required to be reported pursuant to Section 49-1483 because of the provisions of Section 49-1433 defining lobbying to mean the practice of promoting or opposing for another person, the introduction or enactment of legislation or resolutions before the Legislature or the committees or the members thereof, including the practice of promoting or opposing executive approval of legislation or resolutions.
However, to the extent that expenditures are made by a corporation, labor organization or any other person, which is a principal of a registered lobbyist, for the benefit of individual Nebraska Senators or other persons subject to the provisions of Section 49-1490, the same must be reported pursuant to Section 49-1483 on the monthly lobbying report of such corporation or person, as principal, or on the monthly lobbying report of its lobbyist, if incurred directly thereby, and may not exceed the limitations of Section 49-1490.