Title 42
State Affairs and Government

Chapter 139.1
The Rhode Island Lobbying Reform Act

R.I. Gen. Laws § 42-139.1-10

§ 42-139.1-10. Failure to register — Complaints.

(a) On the secretary’s own motion or the sworn complaint of any person under the pains and penalty of perjury, the secretary may initiate a preliminary investigation into the activities of any person who has allegedly been engaged in lobbying without registration or who may be in violation of any provision of this chapter. The secretary shall notify any person who is the subject of the preliminary investigation of the existence of the investigation and the general nature of the alleged violation within thirty (30) calendar days of the commencement of such investigation.

(b) In connection with the preliminary investigation, the secretary may request the production of books, papers, or other documents directly relating to services rendered, work performed, or compensation received in connection with lobbying.

(c) If such information is not willingly provided to the secretary within twenty (20) calendar days following said request, the secretary may file a complaint with the superior court for such applicable relief as is reasonably required by the secretary to conduct the investigation. Any such complaint shall contain:

(1) The identity of the complainant;

(2) A full and complete statement of the facts and circumstances relied upon to justify the reasonable belief that the requested action or relief should be granted by the court, including:

(i) Details as to the particular designated offense that has been or is being committed; and

(ii) A copy of the initial request to the alleged violator for the production of books, papers, or other documents directly relating to services rendered, work performed, or compensation received in connection with the alleged lobbying activity;

(3) The court may require reasonable additional testimony or documentary evidence in support of the requested relief;

(4) Upon the filing of the complaint, the court may enter an order for such relief, including, without limitation, an ex parte order in the form requested or as modified in the court’s reasonable discretion.

(d) If the secretary’s preliminary investigation fails to indicate probable cause relating to a violation, the secretary shall immediately terminate the investigation; dismiss any applicable complaint to the court; and notify the alleged violator in writing within twenty (20) calendar days. For the purposes of this chapter “probable cause” means there are specific and articulable facts, which, taken together, with rational inferences from those facts, indicate a violation has occurred.

(e) If the secretary’s preliminary investigation indicates that there exists probable cause relating to a violation, the secretary may petition the court for a declaratory judgment regarding the suspected violation. The court may require the production of relevant documentary evidence or testimony.

(f) If the court determines by the preponderance of the evidence that a violation of this chapter has occurred, the secretary may further petition the court for appropriate relief, which may include an order to pay a civil penalty of up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) per violation, and revocation of the applicable registration for a period of up to three (3) years.

(g) The secretary may refer the violation to the attorney general for prosecution under § 42-139.1-12.

(h) Expressly excepting any records provided by the secretary to the attorney general for use in a criminal proceeding or made a part of a complaint to the court, all records accumulated by the secretary in conjunction with the secretary’s investigation of an alleged violation shall be considered confidential.

History of Section.
P.L. 2016, ch. 62, § 3; P.L. 2016, ch. 69, § 3.