Advisory Opinion 040

Opinion number: 
Date Adopted: 
Wednesday, October 15, 1980
Campaign Finance
Requested by: 
The Honorable Loran Schmit, State Senator
Officeholder may hire individual with private funds to work with government staff of officeholder. Person so hired would need to register as a lobbyist if definition is met. Privately funded person may not use government funds or resources.

Honorable Loran Schmit

State Senator

State Capitol

Lincoln, Nebraska 68509

Dear Senator Schmit:

Reference is made to your letter dated September 29, 1980 requesting an advisory opinion.

In that request you state that in your own private capacity, and using your personal funds, or corporate funds from a company owned principally by you, you intend to hire an employee to assist and advise you legislative matters as well as private business matters. His assistance and duties on legislative matters will be similar to those of legislative staff presently paid from public funds.

You further state that from time to time, you intend to enter into personal service contracts, hiring out this employee to non-governmental businesses or entities.

You indicate that you are mindful of the provisions of Section 49-14,101 with regard to improper use of office and that disclosure may be required in your Statements of Financial Interests of the proprietorship or business which hires out his services.

The question you present is, in effect, whether such actions would be lawful under the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act.

It is the opinion of the Commission, from the information you have furnished in your request for an advisory opinion, that there is no prohibition in the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act against your hiring such an employee personally and utilizing that employee in the manner described or against a business with which you are associated doing so.

If his legislative duties include lobbying other senators on behalf of a business with which you are associated, he must register as a lobbyist with such business as his principal.

Likewise, if he represents other entities by reason of the personal service contracts referred to in your request and engages in the practice of promoting or opposing the introduction or enactment of legislation or resolutions before the Legislature or the committees or the members thereof, including you, or promotes or opposes executive approval of legislation or resolutions on behalf of an entity or person contracting for his services, he would be required to be registered as a lobbyist for such entity or person. See Sections 49-1433, 49-1434 and 49-1480 of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act.

Needless to say, such an employee may not be permitted to use government property or personnel to conduct the business of an entity with which you are associated or the business of the persons or entities to which his services are contracted. See Section 49-14,101(3) and (4).