In a settlement with a lobbyist, the Citizens Ethics Advisory Board made clear Wednesday that contingency fees for lobbying are illegal in Connecticut, but that having to pay a fine also can be contingent.

The board imposed a $10,000 penalty on Robert M. Silverberg of Glastonbury, a lobbyist and campaign consultant for Morris London Political Communications, but the fine was suspended as long as Silverberg complies with the terms of a consent order subjecting him to closer scrutiny.

Contingency fees have long been illegal on the theory that paying lobbyists based on results was a temptation for lobbyists to bribe decision-makers at the General Assembly or in the executive branch.

Silverberg had a contract with a client, Clean Power Public of New Haven, that would have paid him 15 percent of the gross value of contracts obtained from the state governments of Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Exactly what Silverberg was trying to sell and to whom he was trying to sell it in state government was unclear. The consent order refers only a client’s “energy efficiency products and services.”

Nick Troiano, an attorney listed on a lobbying registration form as the Clean Power official responsible for overseeing Silverberg, declined to discuss the company’s line of products and then hung up on a reporter.

Silverberg did not respond to a phone call or email seeking comment.

Records compiled by the Office of State Ethics lists $25,750 in payments from Clean Public Power to Silverberg from Jan. 22, 2013, through Jan. 22, 2014, for legislative lobbying.

He did not disclose any administrative lobbying. In the consent agreement, Silverberg says he was unaware that his administrative activities were subject to ethics laws.

“He believed that he was engaged in sales activities that were not lobbying,” according to the agreement.

The agreement requires Silverberg to attend annual training sessions for five years, seek written guidance from the Office of State Ethics before entering into a lobbying contract, and obey ethics rules for lobbyists.

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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