Lobbyists, their employers and public agencies engaged in lobbying must preserve all accounts, bills, receipts, books, papers and other documents that substantiate their reports for five years. If the lobbyist is required, as part of his or her employment agreement, to turn all records over to the employer, the employer has the responsibility to preserve them for five years. [RCW 42.17A.655(1)]
The financial reports required from lobbyists and employers mandate that complete, accurate and detailed records be maintained. The type of information that needs to be reported is often both greater and different from that found in most financial accounting systems or required by the Internal Revenue Service. For these reasons, a careful study should be made of the reporting requirements to ensure that the record keeping system used will enable both the lobbyist and employer to prepare and substantiate their respective expense reports.
Given the variety of lobbyists, lobbyist employers and the resources available to them, it is not feasible to suggest a uniform bookkeeping system. Lobbyists and employers must examine their own planned activities and devise a system that is compatible with their other financial accounting requirements, while still satisfying the PDC reporting requirements. Below are some hints and suggestions to assist in record keeping.
Tips for Success:
Each public agency must keep detailed records substantiating the L-5 reports filed by the agency. The records need to document who undertook lobbying activities on behalf of the agency, when and what activities occurred, the specific issues advocated or opposed, as well as the date, amount and purpose of each lobbying-expense. Lobbying-related expenditures of non-public funds totaling $25 or more for gifts or entertainment must also be recorded by date, amount, name of recipient, purpose, source of funds and name of each person making such expenditures.
Report all compensation and expenses for lobbying on an accrual basis. That is, report them for the quarter in which they were earned or incurred, not necessarily received or paid.
It's recommended that agency lobbyists obtain receipts for all lobbying-related expenditures and purchases for which they will be reimbursed by the agency. Similar receipts documenting expenditures of non-public funds for lobbying would also be in order. All receipts should be provided to the agency for its records. Lobbyists should also maintain records of time spent lobbying, persons contacted and issues discussed. Agencies will not be able to report accurately unless these records exist.
Regardless of the amount of time and effort devoted to filing a complete and accurate report, mistakes do happen. If an omission or mistake in the figures of a previously filed report is discovered, file an amended report through the PDC's e-filing application. If an oversight was made in the description of lobbying activities or elsewhere in the text of the report, submit a letter of explanation rather than filing a complete, amended report. Amended reports should be filed as soon as the error is discovered.