Writings and observations

Idaho law says that lobbying generally means trying to influence the crafting of law or some other official action in the legislative or executive branch, and that in general, anyone who does is a lobbyist – even you or I, if we write a letter to a legislator expressing a point of view on an issue.

Not a big deal, though – nothing to worry about if you’ve not registered with the state as a lobbyist. The state has a number of exemptions from registration, and one of them is this: “Persons who do not receive any compensation for lobbying and persons whose compensation for lobbying does not exceed two hundred fifty dollars ($250) in the aggregate during any calendar quarter, including persons who lobby on behalf of their employer or employers, and the lobbying activity represents less than the equivalent of two hundred fifty dollars ($250) of the employee’s time per calendar year quarter, based on an hourly proration of said employee’s compensation.” Simplified, that means if you’re not paid more than $250 to lobby, you don’t have to register. (Sometimes you don’t even if you are paid more.)

If you scan through the monthly reports of Keith Allred‘s lobbyist filings (like this one), then, you have to wonder: Why did he file at all? He was busy in the last few years at the legislature, trying to influence legislation (on behalf of his group the Common Interest), but he wasn’t getting paid for it. He didn’t have to file. Presumably, he filed because he felt like it; he remarked today, “I chose to do so in the interest of full disclosure.”

He didn’t, as it happens, file an annual report for 2009, as must-lobbyists have to do. That led to a press release from the Idaho Republican Party today: “Democratic Candidate for Governor Keith Allred missed the deadline to file his 2009 annual lobbyist report with the Secretary of State. Allred registered with the Secretary of State as a lobbyist in 2009 for The Common Interest.
According to Idaho Code, any lobbyist registered under Section 67-6617 is required to file an annual report with the Secretary of State’s Office. Failure to file a report could result in a penalty of up to fifty dollars a day, at this point according to statute Allred could be subject to hundreds of dollars in fines. The Secretary of State office’s confirmed earlier today that Allred missed the filing deadline.”

Since he’s never had to file at all, any fines would seem problematic. Allred, as the presumptive Democratic nominee for Idaho governor, is a logical target for shots from the Republican, but this particular blast seems ill-aimed.

Allred filed a report, post-deadline, on Friday, and “expressed regret” for the late filing. But why express even regret for filing late a report he didn’t have to file at all?

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