In his his Executive Budget, Governor Cuomo has proposed lowering the expenditure threshold for groups to be considered lobbyists from $5000 to $500. If the change were to go through, that would mean any group spending more than $500 on it’s advocacy would have to register with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE, as a lobbying organization. That would mean far more burdensome reporting requirements, including filing with JCOPE 6 times a year.

But some of the smaller grassroots groups say this could potentially cripple their ability to do even minimal issue based advocacy. Ricky Silver from Empire State Indivisible says,

The current threshold accounts for all big money lobbying expenditures. This is a blatant attempt to discourage grassroots organizations, in large part run by activist volunteers, from mobilizing and educating constituents to engage in their representative Democracy. It’s the exact type of politics our movement was built to end.
Some groups are even smaller like “Rockland United,” which was founded after the 2016 Presidential Election. One of the volunteers, Ivanya Albert says,
We each contribute what we can to the volunteer work that we do as activists. Our “budget” consists of individual members chipping in when they can to buy stamps, postcards, markers, blue hair clips, buttons, coffee, donuts, and poster-board. Does it add up to over $500 per year? Sure. Does it add up to over $5000? No. We are not professional lobbyists. We do not get paid to do this. We are making calls to legislators on the drive home from work, picking up poster-board for rallies while we pick up school supplies for our own children, arranging conference calls around bedtime routines. We barely have time to make dinner and get the kids to soccer practice, let alone squeeze in a few extra hours to file lobbying reports in a legalese that we most likely would not even understand let alone be able to write.
Some believe this is an attempt by Cuomo to punish some of the smaller, more progressive groups that either endorsed his Democratic Primary opponent Cynthia Nixon, or actively supported her fledgling campaign. As Rebecca Saletan of Indivisible Harlem says,
By attempting to lower the threshold of spending to such a tiny amount, it’s hard to imagine that the Governor has anyone but us in his sights. The question is, why would he want to silence us?
Not so, says the Governor’s office. This is all part of a larger reform package. Rich Azzopardi, Senior Adviser to Governor Cuomo says.

It’s not just lobbying reform, it’s lobbying reform, and campaign finance reform, and independent expenditure reform and voting reform and procurement reform. It’s all related and we have an unprecedented opportunity to increase transparency and disclosure and improve our democracy for the better — the fact that some self-described reform groups are against reform speaks to the problem in better ways than I can.