New York ethics board requiring PR pros to register as lobbyists

Communicators are lashing out at a recently passed proposal that expands the definition of ‘lobbying’ to include media relations activities.

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On Tuesday, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics voted 10-3 to approve an advisory opinion that requires PR pros to register as lobbyists if communicating with members of the news media.

Under the opinion, political consultants (and firms) who are paid to help sway public policy—including pitching a client’s position or insight to a reporter for editorial pieces—must disclose the interaction. They must also disclose their clients’ names, fees and additional information about the legislation behind the pitch.

The opinion expands the definition of lobbying to include any media relations efforts with an editorial board or reporter.

The opinion is meant to enforce greater regulations on lobbying activities and cut down on political corruption. However, critics say political consultants aren’t the issue.

The Observer reported that the high level of corruption in the state is because the “Commission’s members are appointed by the very people it is supposed to be monitoring,” and examined its less-than-stellar track record:

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