TEXAS CONFLICT-OF-INTEREST LAW
There is a law in Texas that says as a lobbyist you cannot represent lobby clients that have conflicting positions with other lobby clients on the same matter or with persons with whom you are associated. When that situation arises, a lobbyist may continue to represent a client when there is a conflict of interest (as defined in the statute) so long as the lobbyist:
- complies with the required client and Commission notification requirements, (including providing written notice to the client “not later than the second business day after the date the registrant becomes aware of a conflict” and provides notice to the Commission “not later than the 10th day after the date the registrant becomes aware of a conflict”) and
- in some instances, each affected client has to consent to the conflict and grant the lobbyist permission to continue the representation.
In all instances, remember that the notice has to be on the Commission’s own forms. The contents of the form filed with the Commission (CI-TEC) are confidential, but the fact that you filed it is available to the public, so someone who thinks you have a conflict can ask the Commission if you filed the form. A complaint with the Commission filed against you by anyone who says you haven’t followed the conflicts law could result in a penalty that prohibits you from lobbying for up to two years and a fine of up to $2000.
If you are a lawyer, you must follow both the Lobby Law as well as the State Bar conflict rules.
If it sounds confusing…it is. However, it is important because it is ethically as well as legally important, and doing it right makes a difference. Once the new lobby software comes on line this summer (2015) it is going to be much easier for you to review all your clients with the same subject matter in case you weren’t thinking conflict…and for others to do the same.
So don’t think a conflict isn’t a big deal and try to ignore it hoping that it will go away. You may end up going away instead.