The executive director of the Connecticut Working Families Organization agreed to pay a $10,000 fine to the Office of State Ethics for lobbying for Paid Sick Days legislation without wearing a badge identifying himself as a lobbyist.
Jon Green, who heads both the Working Families Organization and the Working Families Party, agreed at the end of October to pay the $10,000 fine, which is the maximum penalty allowed under the law.
“Forgetting to pick up my lobbyist badge was a dumb mistake, and one I surely won’t make again,” Green said Thursday evening in a phone interview.
According to the consent agreement approved by the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board, Green lobbied between January and May without a badge by personally communicating on more than 100 occasions with state officials, legislators, and members of the executive branch.
So even though he had registered as a lobbyist and paid the fee, he failed to pick up his badge until May 25, the same day the Paid Sick Day legislation that Green had been lobbying passed the Senate. Picking up the badge is also considered the completion of the registration process.
The consent agreement published Thursday afternoon also says Green, as head of the Working Families Party, lobbied legislators who his party contributed to and endorsed in the 2010 election cycle.
In addition to the fine, Green agreed to a number of other conditions on his future lobbying activities including: notifying the OSE if he spends 10 hours lobbying; registering as a lobbyist if he spends 20 hours or more lobbying; and maintaining a written summary, reviewable by the OSE, for the next five years of all his contacts with public officials and state employees to discuss legislative or administrative action. Failure to comply with these conditions may result in additional penalties.
“The requirement to register as a lobbyist is designed to provide the public with transparency regarding lobbying activity,” OSE Executive Director Carol Carson said. “Failure to register or wear a lobbyist badge subverts the public’s right to know who is influencing government action.”
This is not the first time an Office of State Ethics complaint had been filed against Green. In 2009 a complaint that he was engaged in lobbying without registering was lodged, but eventually tossed after it was determined he brought in less than the $2,000 threshold which triggers the registration requirement.
Green said he did register, he simply forgot to pick up his badge until May.
Asked if he thought it would tarnish the victory he had this year in making Connecticut the first state in the nation to adopt Paid Sick Days legislation, Green said, “No.”