“Gift rules for state employees mostly ignored, observers say” Rick Thompson weighs in.

Are Georgia corporations under reporting on their vendor gifts and not registering corporate vendor lobbyists properly?

Here is what RTA Strategy CEO Rick Thompson had to say in an interview with Morris News reporter Walter Jones. “ ‘Here’s the problem: there is no way for any regulatory agency under the current law to know if there is any underreporting,’ said Rick Thompson, the former head of the commission charged with policing gift limits. ‘It’s on your honor because it’s up to self-reporting.’

Former commission head Thompson, who now runs the consulting firm RTA Strategies that advises companies on vendor and lobbyist compliance, estimated tens of thousands of companies should also register as “vendor lobbyists” and be subject to the same reporting requirements as any traditional lobbyist.

So-called bona fide sales representatives are not required to register if they are merely taking orders or bidding on an agency’s request for proposals, but Thompson – who is registered — said they become lobbyists if they try to convince an agency to buy something it wasn’t already contemplating.

‘If they’re buying lunch, that’s not responding to an RFP,’ he said, pointing to a formal opinion of the commission from years ago. ‘Somebody who’s buying lunches and stuff like that, that is not a bona fide sales person.’ ”

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