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Bennett holds first lobbying workshop

Sec. of State Ken Bennett (Photo by Josh Coddington/Arizona Capitol Times)

Sec. of State Ken Bennett (Photo by Josh Coddington/Arizona Capitol Times)

Secretary of State Ken Bennett held a workshop with public sector lobbyists, the first in a proposed series of post-Fiesta Bowl meetings on state lobbying requirements.

About 43 lobbyists representing state agencies, cities and other government entities attended the meeting today to discuss reporting, registration and other requirements for lobbyists. Bennett said it was the first time in recent memory the Secretary of State’s Office had held such an event.

“We felt it would encourage public lobbyists to review their activities to ensure that they remain in compliance with lobbyist registration and reporting requirements,” Bennett said. “Public lobbyists lobby, similar to private lobbyists. But most people don’t know that state law requires additional reporting of public lobbyists each year in their agency’s annual report.”

Bennett also said the meeting provided an opportunity for lobbyists to suggest changes to Arizona’s lobbying laws. He said his office will host additional workshops for private sector lobbyists later this year.

“Events like these are key to developing ideas that improve the regulatory system,” he said.

Bennett proposed the series of workshops after a report commissioned by the Fiesta Bowl showed that numerous lawmakers and other officials, including himself, did not properly disclose trips, tickets and other gifts provided by the bowl. Bennett and others said the lobbying requirements can be confusing because state law includes multiple definitions of ‘gifts.’

Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday also said there may be a need for the Legislature to streamline the state’s reporting requirements for lobbyists and elected officials.

“Our financial disclosure laws are very ambiguous and the bottom line is that they are very, very difficult,” she said. “Something indeed probably needs to be addressed. And hopefully that can be done moving forward maybe in the next legislative session.”

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