lobbyist

Lobbyists

A lobbyist is an individual who, in a consecutive three-month period, the does both of the following:

Has at least one direct communication with a City official in an attempt to influence City action; and

Is compensated to engage in at least 30 hours of lobbying activities in connection with attempts to influence City action.

REQUIREMENTS

Registration

An individual who qualifies as a lobbyist must register with the Ethics Commission within 10 days after the end of the month in which the individual qualifies. Registration automatically terminates on December 31 of each year but may be terminated earlier.

Registration is done electronically through the Lobbying Electronic Filing System (LEFS). Lobbyists must file Form 59 (Application for LEFS ID) to obtain an LEFS identification and password.

A lobbyist is required to pay an annual registration fee of $450 if the lobbyist registers in the first three quarters of the year. If the lobbyist registers in the fourth quarter of the year, the annual fee is $337.

Training

A lobbyist is required to complete a training provided by the Ethics Commission every two years. A training is provided through LEFS, along with reminders regarding completion deadlines. In addition, live trainings are conducted by Ethics Commission staff upon request.

Disclosure

For every calendar quarter in which an individual qualifies or is registered as a lobbyist, the individual must file a disclosure statement. These quarterly reports detail information about the lobbyist’s employer, activity expenses, City campaign contributions, City fundraising activity, campaign contributions and charitable donations behested by a City candidate or officeholder, services to a City committee, and contracts with the City.

Quarterly reports are due by the last day of the month following the end of a calendar quarter and must be filed through LEFS.

Additional disclosure requirements apply, including filing reports within one business day after reaching certain levels of contribution or fundraising activity, filing copies of written communications to neighborhood councils, and filing copies of fundraising solicitations sent to 50 or more people.

Detailed filing requirements can be found under “What Do I File?”.

Record Keeping

A lobbyist is required to prepare and maintain detailed records needed to show compliance with the lobbying laws. This includes books, papers, receipts, invoices, fundraising information, contracts, and other documents. Records must be maintained for at least four years.

EXEMPTIONS

An individual is exempt from the lobbying laws if any of the following apply:

The individual is not being compensated to attempt to influence City action.

The individual is merely participating in a City procurement process.

The individual is a government employee acting in an official capacity.

The individual is employed by a media outlet and is engaged only in the publishing or broadcasting of news, editorials, or paid advertising.

The individual is employed by a 501(c)(3) organization that receives government funding to provide free services directly to indigent persons and the individual is engaged only in providing those services.

LIMITATIONS

A lobbyist is prohibited from doing the following:

Serve as a City commissioner (if members of the commission are required to file statements of economic interest).

Making a campaign contribution to a City candidate if the lobbyist is registered to lobby the office the candidate seeks or holds.

Making or arranging for (or acting as an intermediary in) a gift of any value to a City official who works in an office the lobbyist is registered to lobby. Very limited exceptions apply to the definition of gift.

Doing anything with the intent to place a City official under personal obligation to the lobbyist, the lobbyist’s employer or the lobbyist’s client.

Attempting to deceive a City official regarding a material fact that is pertinent to a pending City matter.

Causing or influencing the introduction of a City matter for the purpose of afterwards being employed to secure its passage or defeat.

Causing a communication to be sent to a City official in the name of a nonexistent person or in the name of an existing person without that person’s permission.

WHAT DO I FILE?

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

For questions regarding specific scenarios, please contact us prior to taking action.

  • Can anyone qualify as a lobbyist?

    Regardless of title, training, or experience, any individual who meets the definition is a lobbyist. Some of the job titles of individuals who have registered as lobbyists include attorney, architect, CEO, engineer, executive director, expediter, government liaison, public service specialist, and union representative.

  • I have been talking with a City employee about a permit that I need to remodel my house. Does that make me a lobbyist?

    No. A lobbyist is someone who is paid by a third party to influence City action on someone else’s behalf. Because you are acting on your own behalf and are not being compensated, you do not meet the definition of lobbyist.

  • Can the staff of Business Improvement Districts and nonprofit organizations qualify as lobbyists?

    Yes. Any individual who meets the definition is a lobbyist. A very limited exception applies for the staff of certain 501(c)(3) organizations.

  • Are there limits on lobbying activity?

    There is no limit on properly reported lobbying activity. However, lobbyists and lobbying firms are limited in other types of activity, which are identified under Limitations.

  • How quickly can I view a lobbyist’s quarterly report?

    A lobbying entity’s quarterly report is publicly available through the Public Data Portal the moment it is filed. The deadlines for filing quarterly reports are April 30 for the first quarter, July 31 for the second quarter, October 31 for the third quarter, and January 31 for the fourth quarter. If these dates fall on a holiday or weekend, the deadline is extended to the next business day.

  • I am a registered lobbyist and have been lobbying on a particular matter. The individuals opposing my client’s position have been participating in meetings about the matter but are not registered. What should I do?

    You may report suspected violations of the lobbying laws through the Ethics Commission’s whistleblower hotline or by contacting the enforcement division.

  • I am a lobbyist and ran into a City official who has been helping me with a project. I offered to buy her lunch, but she said she could not accept. Is that correct?

    Yes. A lobbyist cannot provide a gift of any value to a City official who works in a department the lobbyist is registered to lobby.

PUBLIC DATA PORTAL

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REQUIREMENTS

Registration

An individual who qualifies as a lobbyist must register with the Ethics Commission within 10 days after the end of the month in which the individual qualifies. Registration automatically terminates on December 31 of each year but may be terminated earlier.

Registration is done electronically through the Lobbying Electronic Filing System (LEFS). Lobbyists must file Form 59 (Application for LEFS ID) to obtain an LEFS identification and password.

A lobbyist is required to pay an annual registration fee of $450 if the lobbyist registers in the first three quarters of the year. If the lobbyist registers in the fourth quarter of the year, the annual fee is $337.

Training

A lobbyist is required to complete a training provided by the Ethics Commission every two years. A training is provided through LEFS, along with reminders regarding completion deadlines. In addition, live trainings are conducted by Ethics Commission staff upon request.

Disclosure

For every calendar quarter in which an individual qualifies or is registered as a lobbyist, the individual must file a disclosure statement. These quarterly reports detail information about the lobbyist’s employer, activity expenses, City campaign contributions, City fundraising activity, campaign contributions and charitable donations behested by a City candidate or officeholder, services to a City committee, and contracts with the City.

Quarterly reports are due by the last day of the month following the end of a calendar quarter and must be filed through LEFS.

Additional disclosure requirements apply, including filing reports within one business day after reaching certain levels of contribution or fundraising activity, filing copies of written communications to neighborhood councils, and filing copies of fundraising solicitations sent to 50 or more people.

Detailed filing requirements can be found under “What Do I File?”.

Record Keeping

A lobbyist is required to prepare and maintain detailed records needed to show compliance with the lobbying laws. This includes books, papers, receipts, invoices, fundraising information, contracts, and other documents. Records must be maintained for at least four years.

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EXEMPTIONS

An individual is exempt from the lobbying laws if any of the following apply:

The individual is not being compensated to attempt to influence City action.

The individual is merely participating in a City procurement process.

The individual is a government employee acting in an official capacity.

The individual is employed by a media outlet and is engaged only in the publishing or broadcasting of news, editorials, or paid advertising.

The individual is employed by a 501(c)(3) organization that receives government funding to provide free services directly to indigent persons and the individual is engaged only in providing those services.

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LIMITATIONS

A lobbyist is prohibited from doing the following:

Serve as a City commissioner (if members of the commission are required to file statements of economic interest).

Making a campaign contribution to a City candidate if the lobbyist is registered to lobby the office the candidate seeks or holds.

Making or arranging for (or acting as an intermediary in) a gift of any value to a City official who works in an office the lobbyist is registered to lobby. Very limited exceptions apply to the definition of gift.

Doing anything with the intent to place a City official under personal obligation to the lobbyist, the lobbyist’s employer or the lobbyist’s client.

Attempting to deceive a City official regarding a material fact that is pertinent to a pending City matter.

Causing or influencing the introduction of a City matter for the purpose of afterwards being employed to secure its passage or defeat.

Causing a communication to be sent to a City official in the name of a nonexistent person or in the name of an existing person without that person’s permission.

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WHAT DO I FILE?

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

For questions regarding specific scenarios, please contact us prior to taking action.

  • Can anyone qualify as a lobbyist?

    Regardless of title, training, or experience, any individual who meets the definition is a lobbyist. Some of the job titles of individuals who have registered as lobbyists include attorney, architect, CEO, engineer, executive director, expediter, government liaison, public service specialist, and union representative.

  • I have been talking with a City employee about a permit that I need to remodel my house. Does that make me a lobbyist?

    No. A lobbyist is someone who is paid by a third party to influence City action on someone else’s behalf. Because you are acting on your own behalf and are not being compensated, you do not meet the definition of lobbyist.

  • Can the staff of Business Improvement Districts and nonprofit organizations qualify as lobbyists?

    Yes. Any individual who meets the definition is a lobbyist. A very limited exception applies for the staff of certain 501(c)(3) organizations.

  • Are there limits on lobbying activity?

    There is no limit on properly reported lobbying activity. However, lobbyists and lobbying firms are limited in other types of activity, which are identified under Limitations.

  • How quickly can I view a lobbyist’s quarterly report?

    A lobbying entity’s quarterly report is publicly available through the Public Data Portal the moment it is filed. The deadlines for filing quarterly reports are April 30 for the first quarter, July 31 for the second quarter, October 31 for the third quarter, and January 31 for the fourth quarter. If these dates fall on a holiday or weekend, the deadline is extended to the next business day.

  • I am a registered lobbyist and have been lobbying on a particular matter. The individuals opposing my client’s position have been participating in meetings about the matter but are not registered. What should I do?

    You may report suspected violations of the lobbying laws through the Ethics Commission’s whistleblower hotline or by contacting the enforcement division.

  • I am a lobbyist and ran into a City official who has been helping me with a project. I offered to buy her lunch, but she said she could not accept. Is that correct?

    Yes. A lobbyist cannot provide a gift of any value to a City official who works in a department the lobbyist is registered to lobby.

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PUBLIC DATA PORTAL

Search Former Website: Campaign | Lobbying

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