Buried in the recently-enacted and controversial North Carolina Voter ID law is an additional restriction on political activity by lobbyists. North Carolina already prohibited lobbyists from making personal political contributions at any time, and from collecting and transferring contributions from multiple donors (known as bundling). Starting October 1, lobbyists will be prohibited from collecting and transferring even a single political contribution from one individual to a candidate or campaign committee. Although the new restriction clearly applies to physically collecting and transmitting contributions to candidates and campaign committees, the impact on the mere solicitation of contributions remains unclear.
This latest restriction serves as a reminder that many jurisdictions heavily regulate political activity by lobbyists. Federal law imposes complex bundling regulations that are often difficult to navigate for both the lobbyist and campaign committee. State and local laws vary. Some prohibit lobbyists from serving as treasurer of a political committee (Maryland), prohibit contributions from lobbyists during legislative sessions (e.g., Wisconsin), or impose lower contribution limits on lobbyists (New York City). Many jurisdictions that do not restrict or prohibit lobbyist activity impose disclosure requirements on both the lobbyist and the entity that employs them when the lobbyist or employer contributes to candidates or committees (Maryland, California, Washington State).
Before lobbying in a new state, lobbyists and their employers are well-advised to check on these restrictions and disclosure requirements. Apart from the potential fines and other sanctions, an inadvertent violation can undermine a lobbying effort and tarnish the reputations of all who are involved.