Rokita consultant hired, but facing $18,000 in lobbyist registration fines
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A conservative policy activist and consultant working on contract for Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s office was hired as a lobby-exempt, full-time employee after she mistakenly registered as a lobbyist for the wrong entity — but faces $18,000 in related fines.
Erin Tuttle was nearly a year into her two-year, $200,000-maximum contract, which includes “Contractor shall interact and communicate with legislators” as a duty, when the Capital Chronicle asked Rokita’s office why she was not in the Indiana Lobby Registration Commission’s list of registered lobbyists.
Chief Administrative Officer Larry Hopkins said the office had asked her to register with the state of Indiana, but found after the Capital Chronicle’s inquiry that she had mistakenly registered with the city of Indianapolis.
Contractors aren’t exempt from the registration requirement, but employees are.
“Erin continues to serve as a valued member of the [Office of the Attorney General] staff in the same capacity as before but is doing so as an employee,” Hopkins said in a statement Wednesday to the Capital Chronicle. “We will work with the commission to finalize any necessary procedures required to close out her obligations to that body.”
Indiana law requires lobbyists to not only file registration statements (within 15 days of becoming a lobbyist, plus annually), but also file semi-annual activity reports. Lobbyists must also complete separate filings for gifts, purchases, amendments and activity terminations.
Miss a deadline, and a lobbyist is fined $100 a day — up to $4,500 — until the filing is in.
Four of Tuttle’s five filings in the commission’s public dashboard were marked as being 45 or more days after the deadline, totaling $18,000. A notice within each filing says the fee will be charged to her account, but also describes an appeals process.
Tuttle is appealing the four fines. Her reason in the four filings reads, “I inadvertently registered with the wrong entity.”
One filing was early: an activity report indicating Tuttle no longer meets the definition of a lobbyist.
The report, submitted August 8, covers May 1 to Oct. 31. It contains a checked box captioned, “Please check box if you would like to terminate the registered lobbyist status for the registrant.”
Office spokeswoman Kelly Stevenson said Tuttle became a full-time employee on August 8.
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