PROVIDENCE, RI – As the 2011 legislative session begins to heat up, Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis is inviting State House lobbyists and their clients to a workshop reviewing financial reporting, campaign finance and ethics laws this Monday.
State law requires everyone who is paid to lobby the General Assembly, the Governor’s office or any department of state government to register with the Secretary of State’s office.
"Helping lobbyists become more familiar with our reporting system and their obligations under the law will make it easier for them to provide accurate information to the public,” said Mollis.
The free workshop will be offered Mon., March 14, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. and, again, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the Senate Lounge on the 2nd floor of the State House.
The workshop will cover registration requirements, monthly and year-end expense reporting, reporting gifts or payments to legislators and executives of state agencies and state guidelines on campaign contributions to candidates and elected officials.
A representative of the state Ethics Commission will also be present to review the Code of Ethics and answer questions.
"It is important for lobbyists to understand the legal and ethical considerations that public officials face concerning conflicts of interest and gifts from interested persons," said Jason Gramitt, attorney and spokesman for the Ethics Commission.
Mollis has offered the workshop every year since taking office in 2007.
The public can find the name of every registered lobbyist, their clients, the issues they follow, their compensation, their lobbying expenses and political contributions over $100 on the Secretary of State’s website at sos.ri.gov.
“Making government more open and accessible is my priority. We literally put thousands of reports covering hundreds of lobbyists, lobbying firms and corporations at the public's fingertips,” said Mollis.
Last year there were 376 legislative lobbyists and 199 lobbyists who targeted the executive branch. In addition, 77 employees of governmental entities such as state agencies and cities registered as lobbyists.
The five most heavily lobbied issues in 2010 were taxation, health care, state affairs and government, public policy and insurance. In 2009, the most popular topics were health care, taxation, state affairs and government, insurance and business.
Last year, the least lobbied issues were crime, maritime affairs, water resources, courts and food. In 2009, the least popular subjects were agriculture, food, crime, fish and wildlife and courts.
Secretary of State Mollis is committed to making it easier to vote, helping business grow and making government more open and accessible. For more information about the March 14 workshop, contact the Secretary of State’s Public Information Division at firstname.lastname@example.org or (401) 222-3983.
MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4393 or email@example.com.