New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics Clarifies “Reportable Business Relationship” Rules

The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) issued revised disclosure guidelines for “Reportable Business Relationships” (RBR), which removed a factor from the “Reason to Know” analysis for lobbyists and added additional language to the “Accuracy of Reported Information” headline for clients of lobbyists. The revised RBR guidelines are in effect immediately.

Changes to the RBR Guidelines for Lobbyists

The Reason to Know section of the RBR guidelines is used to determine whether a lobbyist has reason to know that an individual is a statewide elected official, state officer, state employee, member of the legislature or legislative employee (collectively referred to as a “State Person) and whether that state person has the requisite involvement with the entity the lobbyist is pursuing.

If a reasonable person looking at all the facts and circumstances would conclude that a lobbyist should know that an individual is a State Person or that a State Person has significant involvement with the entity being pursued by the lobbyist, then the Reason to Know standard has been satisfied. JCOPE’s RBR guidelines include some factors that may be considered in determining Reason to Know such as origins of the relationship, length of the relationship, the type and actual value of the goods, services or items provided, and others. The revised RBR guidelines remove the following factor from the Reason to Know analysis:

“Any effort by the lobbyist to obtain information relating to the fact that the individual is a State Person or the Requisite Involvement of the State Person in the entity at issue.”

Changes to the RBR Guidelines for Clients of Lobbyists

The guidelines for clients of lobbyists include a section on “Accuracy of Reported Information.” This section informs the client of his or her duty to ensure the information provided is “accurate, current and complete.” The section informs the client of his or her duty to update and correct the Client Semi-Annual report if, after having filed the report, “a Reportable Business Relationship arises, or a Client learns of a Reportable Business Relationship that was not previously disclosed.”

This section of the RBR guidelines has been revised to include the following new language:

“For the purposes of determining if any proprietor, partner, director, or member of the executive management of an entity has a business relationship that must be disclosed as a Reportable Business Relationship, the entity that is responsible for making the filing may reasonably rely on the information provided by a proprietor, partner, director, or member of the executive management in response to a general questionnaire or form that is designed to elicit the information necessary to make such a determination.”

Contact Information

If you have any questions regarding this alert, please contact:

Melissa L. Laurenza
mlaurenza@akingump.com
202.887.4251
Washington, D.C.
Austin Tracy
atracy@akingump.com
202.416.5176
Washington, D.C.
Samuel Olswanger
solswanger@akingump.com
202.416.5142
Washington, D.C.