capitolsummerEthics and lobbying regulators on Tuesday approved an advisory opinion that would broaden the definition of lobbying to include paid political consultants and public relations firms.

The rule, in some cases, could include when those PR teams contact the media in order to influence the direction of coverage.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics approved the opinion in order to address what has become an increasingly hazy distinction between registered lobbyists and those who are hired as consultants who do not — technically speaking — lobby state officials directly.

One provision of the opinion includes having PR consultants reveal how much they are being paid by clients the proposed laws they are pushing whenever they reach out to a media outlet when it comes to a “client’s message in an editorial.”

JCOPE commissioners, including Chairman Daniel Horwitz, insisted the measure wasn’t aimed at reporters who contact lobbyists or consultants who are sources, but when those consultants contact, say, a newspaper editorial board.

“What we’re focusing on is a lobbyist who is trying to sway a specific agenda,” Horwitz said.

“We’re not talking about infringing or impinging or confining or constraining the media’s ability to pursue the stories that they pursuing,” he added.

Broadly, the opinion addresses what has increasingly come to be considered a “shadow government” in which consultants provide contact for their clients to speak with government and elected officials or in some cases reporters. The consultants themselves do not directly lobby state officials.

The opinion considers what is known as grassroots lobbying — efforts aimed at bringing supporters together in order to rally for a specific action.

The disclosure could include whenever these firms attempt to contact the press in order to have them “write a position piece.”

Good-government advocates and PR firms have raised concerns with the approach, which they considered heavy handed and infringing on First Amendment rights.

The November Team, a consultant firm that includes Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino among its clients, said in a statement it would not comply with the rule.

“Our conversations with reporters are Constitutionally protected, and we will not surrender that protection under any circumstances,” said November Team partners Jessica Proud and Bill O’Reilly in a joint statement. “If Andrew Cuomo wants to fit us for handcuffs, so be it. There is no more precious freedom in this country than the right to free speech, and we will fight for it.”