James.qxp Sept Oct 2018 web (2) - Page 25



Once registered, Georgia lobbyists are required to le periodic electronic disclosure reports with the Commission detailing any lobbying expenditures incurred during a reporting
period and other details regarding their outreach.
Expenditures made on behalf of or for the benet of a public
officer should not exceed $75 per recipient per outing (except
in statutorily specied circumstances), and must be reported
in a manner that allows the public to know: the name and title
of the public officer/employee benetted; the amount, description, and category of expenditure made; and whether the
expenditure related to a particular bill, ordinance or other lobbying subject. Reporting schedules vary depending on a lobbyist's classication. For state lobbyists, reports are due every two
weeks while the General Assembly is in session, and once a
month the remainder of the year. Local lobbyists, by comparison, need only report three times per calendar year.
Failure to properly and timely register and report lobbying
activities and expenditures can result in signicant civil penalties. Just last year, a former lobbyist was assessed over $15,000
in civil penalties and late fees by the Commission for failing to
register and le public disclosures between 2012 and 2014.
Through this and other recent enforcement actions, the
Commission has clearly signaled an intent to promote greater
lobbying transparency and ethics and to make penalty and late
fee enforcement a high priority. In light of this prerogative, all
active and prospective lobbyists should exercise due care to
comply with applicable registration and disclosure obligations.
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JAMES
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018
During the last year, lobbyists and prospective lobbyists
have also seen their mandatory compliance obligations
expand beyond the above demands. In the wake of multiple
accusations of sexual harassment and discriminatory behavior at the Capitol, lobbyists are now required to comply with
the General Assembly’s newly-implemented sexual and
unlawful harassment policy. Not only must lobbyists conrm
that they have read the policy at the time of annual registration, but they are also now subject to an affirmative duty to
report to the appropriate General Assembly staff member or
committee chair any conduct they witness that contravenes
the policy. Like other mandatory compliance obligations, failure to comply with the terms of the policy places the lobbyist
at risk of a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for a rst offense.
One nal item to watch as 2018 progresses is the status of
two proposed ordinances in the city of Atlanta that would
strengthen the municipal ethics code, require city lobbyists to
register independently with the Atlanta Board of Ethics
(ABOE), and obligate members of the Atlanta City Council to
report any observed lobbying violations to both the ABOE and
Commission. Should Atlanta implement either of these
frameworks, it would mean an increased administrative burden for local lobbyists and raise questions about enforcement
authority between the City and Commission. Stay tuned.
Ben Keane and Robert Sills are attorneys in the Public Policy
and Regulatory practice of Dentons.
It was a bizarre eruption by then-newly-minted
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. The January 2010
scene was at 103 West, the tony luncheon spot
that annually hosted the Buckhead Coalition’s
meet-and-greet for political wheeler-dealers, business high-rollers and the press.
Reed’s tantrum was precipitated when he
asked me about my life since retiring from
Creative Loafing. I mentioned that I was a
consultant and one of my clients was the
Atlanta Housing Authority. Reed
clenched his fists, screwed up his face
in a snarl and spat out the name of
AHA’s CEO, Renee Glover. The mayor
fumed I was no friend of his if I was connected to Glover.
Wow, I thought, what’s that all about?
I would learn that Reed, who as mayor controlled the AHA board, intended to turn the
agency— with its annual budget of hundreds of
SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018
25

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