The State Ethics Commission administers a lobbying regulatory program including registration, disclosure, reporting and standards of conduct for executive, legislative and grassroots lobbying. The lobbyist standards are comprehensive and address a multitude of issues including contingent fees, campaign finance activity, improper encouragement of legislation, improper gifts, prohibitions against loans, concealment of clients, referrals by officials or employees to obtain lobbying clients, intentional misstatement of fact, and other fraudulent or illegal activities. More than 3,000 lobbying registrations are filed each year identifying the name of the lobbyist, the employer, and the topics of the activity to be lobbied. Lobbying activity reports are filed twice a year, by May 31st for the period of November 1 through April 30th,and by November 30th for the period of May 1st through October 31st. Activity reports include the lobbyist’s compensation and expenditures, gifts, and certain business relationships with officials. There are various other reports that lobbyists must file including lobbyist campaign contributions and meals or receptions for legislative units. These filings are public documents and may be viewed during normal business hours at the Commission’s office or on the Commission's website.
Registration and Reporting
The easiest way to file registrations and reports is via the Commission's Lobbying Electronic Filing System. In addition to facilitating filing by walking you through the process, the system will simplify subsequent filings by calling up the previously-filed form, allowing you to limit your work to those changes that have occurred since the previous filing.
Registration and Reporting Issues - Common Issues and Frequently Asked Questions
Lobbying Electronic Filing System - File your Registration and Reports Online
The Commission also accepts paper filings. The original form must be mailed or delivered to the Commission's office. Copies, scans or facsimiles will not be accepted.
Lobbying Registration and Reporting Forms for Paper Filers
The State Ethics Law requires the Ethics Commission to provide a training course for regulated lobbyists and prospective regulated lobbyists at least twice each year regarding the provisions of the Maryland Public Ethics Law relevant to regulated lobbyists. One such course is required to be conducted in the month of January. The Law also requires a lobbyist to attend training within six months of initially registering as a lobbyist (or if the initial registration is for less than six months, prior to any subsequent registration) and thereafter within two years of the previously-completed training. Note that effective October 1, 2014, the Public Ethics Law authorizes the Commission to enforce the training requirement in the same manner as it enforces other lobbying violations. The "Basic Lobbyist Training" covers the Public Ethics Law including the lobbying registration, reporting and conduct requirements. The "Advance Lobbyist Training" is for individual lobbyists who have had the Basic Training and will address selective topics and any changes in the Law. The State Ethics Commission may publish on its website a list of lobbyists who have completed the statutorily mandated training.
The easiest way to complete training is online. This is accomplished via our Lobbying Electronic Filing System using the same account in which you file registrations, activity reports, gift reports and event reports. Please DO NOT create another account if you have one already. Once logged in, you will discover that the training link is located below “History” on the upper left side of the screen. Be sure to finish the entire training session to obtain a certificate and to ensure the training requirement is met and recorded by the Commission. You can stop the training at the END of any chapter and return to the point you stopped to view the remaining chapters when you log in again. The training should take at least 1½ to 2 hours to complete.
If you prefer, the Commission offers training classes throughout the year. If you are interested in attending a class please reserve a seat in an upcoming class by completing a registration form and faxing it to the Commission at 410.260.7746.
Legislative Events - Meals or Receptions
The Public Ethics Law allows members of a “legislative unit” to be provided food and beverages as part of a reception or meal. Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t Art. § 15-708. A “legislative unit” is defined as the entire General Assembly, either house of the General Assembly, a standing committee, a county or regional delegation of members of the General Assembly that is recognized by a presiding officer. Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t Art. §15-102(w)(1-4). Presently there are 12 recognized county or regional delegations. A regulated lobbyist must extend a written invitation to all members of the legislative unit that are invited to the meal or reception and file the Commission’s Form #13E (“Five Day Notice”) with the Department of Legislative Services at least 5 days before the date of the meal or reception. Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t Art. § 15-708(a). Thereafter, the regulated lobbyist must file Form #13F (“Fourteen Day Report”) with the Commission 14 days after the meal or reception disclosing its total cost and any other sponsors and their contributions to the meal or reception. Md. Code Ann., State Gov’t Art. § 15-708(d). Both Form #13E and Form #13F can also be completed and filed with the appropriate parties using the Lobbing Electronic Filing System.
Lobbying Year - November 1st through October 31st
Lobbying Registration - Registrations are accepted throughout the Lobbying Year; however, the effective dates for the registration [item 4.a) on the Registration Form] may not exceed any given Lobbying Year. Additionally, a registration must be submitted to the Commission within five days after first performing an act that requires registration. For example, a registration with an effective date of November 1st must be submitted to the Commission no later than November 6th. In another example, a lobbyist whose activities require registration by January 21st must submit a registration with an effective date of January 21st, and the registration must be received by the Commission no later than January 26th.
Activity Reports - Activity Reports are filed twice a year by May 31st for the period of November 1st through April 30th and by November 30th for the period of May 1st through October 31st. If a lobbyist is registered during any portion of either time period, he/she must file an Activity Report for the respective period even if there is no activity to report.