Lobbying Registration and Reporting General Instructions

Montgomery County law defines lobbyist as “an individual or organization who spends money or is compensated to influence legislative, executive, or administrative action by a County agency.”  Lobbyists meeting certain criteria are required to register as lobbyists.  Each registered lobbyist is required to file an activity report for each semi-annual period in which the lobbyist is registered showing all expenses and cost information associated with a particular registration in the semi-annual period.   See Frequently Asked Questions (PDF).

I. REGISTRATION: Pursuant to the County's Public Ethics Law at Chapter 19A, Article V, of the Montgomery County Code and except as provided in that law, any individual or organization must register as a lobbyist if that individual or organization:

  • Spends more than $500 or receives more than $500 to communicate with a public employee to influence legislative action by a County agency; or

  • Spends more than $500 on meals, beverages, transportation, lodging, services, special events or gifts to influence executive or administrative action by a County agency.

Registration is accomplished by accessing the online registration and activity reporting system at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/lobbyists, creating an account, logging in, moving your cursor to the Registration menu item and clicking on "Add New" in the Registration sub-menu.  The registration form will appear, and a link to detailed instructions is embedded at the top of the form.  The form must be filed no later than five days after the activity that triggered the registration requirement.

Effective Dates of Registration:  A registration is effective when the Ethics Commission acknowledges receipt of required registration fees and lasts until the earlier of the period identified on the registration form, the end of the year for which the registration is made, or the date the EC is notified that the registration is terminated. 

Annual Registration Fee:  The Public Ethics Law and implementing regulations require, annually, a $125 registration fee with respect to each lobbyist for each registration filed.  Lobbyists at an organization or firm who wish to register multiple lobbyists from the organization or firm on the same registration may do so, but a $125 annual registration fee is required for each person listed (except those not required to register because they do not meet registration thresholds in section 19A-21 of the Public Ethics Law.)  For those electing to make payment by credit card, a 2.3% service will be charged.

II.  SEMI-ANNUAL LOBBYING ACTIVITY REPORTS: Each registered lobbyist is required to file semi-annual reports of activities for each registration that is active during any portion of the semi-annual period. The reports are due by the end of the month following the end of each semi-annual period for which the lobbyist is registered.  For the semi-annual period ending June 30, the Lobbying Activity Report is required to be filed by July 31 of that year.  The Lobbying Activity Report for the semi-annual period ending December 31 must be filed by the following January 31.  An activity report must be filed for a reporting period for which a lobbyist is registered even if the lobbyist engages in no lobbying activities and has no reportable compensation or expenses in that period.  Semi-annual activity reporting is accomplished by accessing the online registration and activity reporting system at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/lobbyists.  When a lobbyist clicks the Activity Reporting menu option, then clicks on "Add" to add a semi-annual report for a listed registration, the semi-annual reporting form will appear.  A link to detailed instructions is embedded in the form.  If no registrations appear when you have logged in and clicked on the Activity Reporting menu item, please contact the Ethics Commission at 240-777-6670.

Required Reporting:  Each semi-annual lobbying activity report must include total expenditures on lobbying in each of the following categories:

  • Office expenses;

  • Professional and technical research and assistance;

  • Publications that expressly encourage persons to communicate with public employees;

  • Names of witnesses and the fees and expenses paid to each;

  • Meals and beverages for public employees and their immediate families;

  • Special events, including parties, dinners, athletic events, entertainment, and other functions, to which all members of the Council or the governing body of an agency are invited;

  • Expenses for food, lodging, and scheduled entertainment of public employees given in return for participation in a panel or speaking engagement at a meeting;

  • Other gifts to or for public employees or their immediate families;

  • Other expenses;

  • Total compensation paid to the lobbyist, or a prorated amount based on the time spent on lobbying, if lobbying is only one portion of the lobbyist’s employment activities; AND

  • The name of each public employee or relative who receives, directly or indirectly, a gift given by a lobbyist or any person acting on behalf of the lobbyist, if the gifts have a total value of at least $50 during the year.

III.  NOTICE OF TERMINATION:  A lobbyist may file a notice terminating the effectiveness of a registration with the Commission.  A semi-annual activity report must be filed for the period since the end of the last prior semi-annual period before notice of termination can be accepted by the Ethics Commission.

IV.  NOTICE ON PROHIBITION ON CONTINGENT COMPENSATION:  A person may not be employed as a lobbyist for compensation that depends on or varies with the success or defeat of any legislative, administrative or executive action by a County agency or upon any other contingency connected with any action of the County Government.

V.  PENALTIES AND SANCTIONS:  A violation of the lobbying provisions of the Public Ethics Law may be punished as a misdemeanor, with fines of not more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both, per violation.  Each day a violation continues constitutes a separate offense.  If the lobbyist is a business entity and not a natural person, each officer and partner of the business entity who knowingly authorized or participated in the violation is guilty of the misdemeanor and, upon conviction, is subject to these same penalties.

Questions may be referred to the Ethics Commission by email to: [email protected] or by calling (240) 777-6670.

Ethics Commission Lobby Registration and Activity Reporting Annual Reports are available in Portable Document Format (PDF).

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