Lobbying is an integral part of Tennessee’s and our nation’s democratic process. It is a constitutionally guaranteed right under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution providing for “the right of citizens to petition the government for redress of their grievances.” Government officials are continuously making public policy decisions that affect the vital interests of individuals, corporations, labor organizations, religious groups, charitable institutions and other entities. Public officials need to receive factual information from affected interests and to know such parties’ views in order to make informed policy judgments. In exercising their rights to try to influence public policy, interests often choose to employ professional representatives to monitor developments and advocate their positions, or to use lobbyists through their membership in trade associations and other membership organizations. In Tennessee, hundreds of men and women now are professional lobbyists and represent virtually every type of interest.
To help preserve and advance public trust and confidence in our democratic institutions and the public policy advocacy process, professional lobbyists have a strong obligation to act always in the highest ethical and moral manner in their dealings with all parties. Lobbyists also have a duty to advance public understanding of the lobbying profession. The Tennessee Lobbyists Association, accordingly, has adopted the following “Standards of Conduct” to provide basic guidelines and standards for lobbyists’ conduct. In general, these Standards are intended to apply to independent lobbyists who are retained to represent third party clients’ interests and to lobbyists employed on the staff of corporations, labor organizations, associations and other entities where their employer is in effect their “client.” Lobbyists are strongly urged to comply with these Standards and to seek always to practice the highest ethical conduct in their lobbying endeavors. Individual members of the Tennessee Lobbyists Association (TLA) affirm their commitment to abide by these standards.
- The professional lobbyist will always deal in accurate, current and factual information, whether it is being reported to the employer or client, government officials or professional colleagues, and will not engage in misrepresentation of any nature. The lobbyist has a responsibility to inform any public official of material changes in information they provide, should such changes make previously provided information inaccurate.
- The professional lobbyist should comply with the laws governing lobbying and should respect the standards of conduct applying to officials and staff of the General Assembly and the Executive Branch. The professional lobbyist should not knowingly participate in any activity that could place a public official in violation of any law or policy governing their conduct.
- The lobbyist should conduct lobbying activities in a fair and professional manner, treating others, both allies and adversaries, with respect and civility.
- The professional lobbyist should seek to avoid conflicts of interest and should not continue or undertake representations that may create conflicts of interest without the informed consent of the client or potential client involved.
- The lobbyist should vigorously and diligently advance and advocate the client’s or employer’s interests. The lobbyist should exercise loyalty to the client’s or employer’s interests through due diligence and best efforts towards their goal.
- The professional lobbyist should respect the confidential communications of the employer or client.
- The professional lobbyist should exhibit proper respect for the government institutions before which the lobbyist appears.
- The lobbyist should attempt to ensure better understanding and appreciation of the right of citizens to petition their government and for the redress of their grievances.