Anaheim to consider tightening rules on lobbyists

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Anaheim City Council is expected to vote on new restrictions on lobbyists and expanding access to public records about lobbying at its Tuesday night meeting. The so-called Sunshine Ordinance proposed by freshman Councilman Jose Moreno is aimed at increasing transparency in city government. 

Under the proposed rules, lobbyists would be required to register with the city and file quarterly reports on lobbying activities.

The ordinance would also prohibit Anaheim from hiring people who have second jobs with lobbying firms, which could affect several aides currently working for city council members. 

It would also establish a revolving door policy prohibiting former city employees from returning to lobby the city for two years. In addition, it would require the city to retain emails to and from top city officials on city servers for 90 days. 

Moreno said Anaheim had a long history of cozy relationships between city officials and companies — especially in the resort district, which includes Disneyland and several major hotel chains — that do business in Anaheim. 

“In Anaheim, the culture is, well of course, a lobbying firm can have one of their employees working in the city," Moreno said. "Of course, a former director or senior person in the city can work for a lobbying firm and then go and lobby you or go and run the contract that they set up.” 

City Council already passed Moreno’s Sunshine Ordinance 5 to 2 on a first read. The council will take a final vote Tuesday. 

The council will also consider an alternative ordinance proposed by Councilwoman Kris Murray. 

Murray, who voted against Moreno’s proposal two weeks ago, said she wanted even stronger restrictions on lobbyists and a more expansive revolving door policy. 

Under her proposal, paid workers on city council election campaigns would not be allowed to take jobs with the city if their candidate was victorious. And retired city officials would be prohibited from lobbying the city for a length of time equal to their time in office.

Her proposal would also require council members to recuse themselves from voting on an issue if any family members, including cousins and in-laws, have a vested interest in the outcome. 

“If we’re going to make a change, let’s set the bar,” she said.

The dueling Sunshine Ordinance proposals could lead to yet another showdown on Anaheim's contentious city council dais, which pits a pro-Disney minority against Moreno, Mayor Tom Tait and other members who have pledged to curb the influence of big business on local decision-making. 

Moreno said Murray’s proposal was an attempt to stymie his efforts. 

“Councilwoman Murray has had 6 1/2 years to propose strong ethical policies and guidelines and strong ordinances around lobbying activities,” Moreno said. “It raises the question ‘why now?'"

OC watchdog Shirley Grindle said she had read through both proposals and supported Moreno’s, generally, though she wanted to see some of Murray’s language included in the final ordinance. 

The city council meeting starts at 5 p.m.

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