Hollywood celebs may be forced to register as lobbyists to continue protesting fracking in New York State

Katie LaPotin, Red Alert Politics, March 20, 2013

Yoko Ono and her son Sean may soon have a new job title next to their name: registered lobbyist.

The duo, alongside other anti-fracking activists including actors Gwyneth Paltrow, Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon, may be forced to register as lobbyists in the state of New York if they want to continue fighting against the use of hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale region on behalf of their organization, Artists Against Fracking.

“When someone is trying to influence or change public opinion, there’s always a concern if the public doesn’t know exactly how much money they are spending to do that,” said Barbara Bartoletti, of the League of Women Voters, told the AP. “I don’t know if they are splitting hairs between educating the public or lobbying.”

In New York, any organization that “reasonably expects to spend or receive more than $5,000 a year” for lobbying efforts must register itself as a lobbyist organization within the state.

“You spend money lobbying, you have to register,” David Grandeau, former executive director of the state lobbying commission and now an attorney representing lobbyists and clients, also told the AP.

David Fenton, a spokesman for the group, said Monday that the group’s members would register as lobbyists if it became necessary for them to do so to continue the fight.

“Yoko and Sean, as true with many New Yorkers, have expressed concerns about fracking, participated in the submission of comments to the Department of Environmental Conservation, and visited Albany with their own resources,” he said. “As such, neither Yoko, Sean, nor their Artists Against Fracking endeavor have been required to be registered lobbyists. If there is a need to register, of course, that will occur.”

Earlier this month, the New York State Assembly voted to extend the state’s current moratorium on hydraulic fracturing through 2015 so the state Department of Health can continue its research assessing the impact that fracking will have on the environmental and local residents.

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