New York State is headed toward requiring 501(c)(4) groups that lobby to disclose their donors, a significant new requirement that may be a first for any state.  As more and more money is being spent to influence state governments, the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics approved draft regulations and guidelines to increase lobbying disclosure and reporting requirements.

Advocacy groups that lobby, such as 501(c)(4) organizations that have not had to disclose their donors, will have to disclose certain contributions under the new regulations, which still must go through New York’s formal rule promulgating process.  Once a person or entity that retains a lobbyist or lobbies on its own behalf spends over $50,000 and meets other spending and timing thresholds, it must disclose certain contributions – generally, contributions over $5,000 in the aggregate from a “single source.”  The “single source” rule requires aggregating contributions from donors who live in the same household, are a parent and subsidiary, or are subsidiaries with the same corporate parent.

There are a few important caveats.  Charitable 501(c)(3) organizations are statutorily exempt from the disclosure requirements and 501(c)(4) organizations can seek exemptions if they fear that disclosing donors may cause harm.  Any donor can also seek an exemption if he can show there is a substantial likelihood that disclosing the contribution would cause harm.

The Commission also approved guidelines that require lobbyists and clients to disclose certain business relationships with New York State legislators and statewide elected officials, as well as legislative and state employees.

Photo of Angelle Smith Baugh Angelle Smith Baugh

Angelle Smith Baugh is of counsel in the firm’s Election and Political Law and White Collar Litigation practice groups. She has significant experience in broad-based crisis management, advising clients on legal and political matters presenting complex risks.

Angelle’s practice focuses on defending companies…

Angelle Smith Baugh is of counsel in the firm’s Election and Political Law and White Collar Litigation practice groups. She has significant experience in broad-based crisis management, advising clients on legal and political matters presenting complex risks.

Angelle’s practice focuses on defending companies and individuals in high-profile congressional investigations, as well as other criminal, civil, and internal investigations. She represents clients before House and Senate Committees, as well as in criminal and civil government investigations before the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice, Federal Election Commission, and the Office of Congressional Ethics.

She assists companies and executives responding to formal and informal inquiries from Congress and executive branch agencies for documents, information, and testimony. She has experience preparing CEOs and other senior executives to testify before challenging congressional oversight hearings.

Angelle also has experience and expertise navigating federal and state ethics laws, and provides ongoing political law advice to companies, trade associations, PACs, and individuals.