The Los Angeles City Ethics Commission wants to know more about how lobbyists are seeking to influence city officials.
On Tuesday, commissioners approved a set of recommendations to increase transparency in lobbying, which next go to the city council for its approval.
Under the newly adopted recommendations:
- Lobbyists would have to provide more detail about their direct communication with the city, including the dates of conversations and the agency contacted.
- If the person lobbied is a city official, his/her title must be disclosed. The new rules would not force lobbyists to disclose the names of city staffers being lobbied.
In Los Angeles, lobbyists are defined as anyone who is paid to communicate directly with city officials to tip the scales on legislation for more than 30 hours in a three-month period.
Currently, registered lobbyists must pay a fee and complete quarterly reports that disclose the agencies they’ve spoken to regarding city business. Critics say this information is too vague, and does little to pinpoint the reach of lobbying efforts. The city of L.A. has over 40,000 employees. Depending on the size of an agency, the communication could be with any number of thousands of staffers.
During Tuesday's meeting, commissioners also voted to exempt more non-profits from registering as lobbyists:
- Smaller 501(c)(3) organizations (those with less than $2 million in gross receipts annually) would not have to register unless their staff attempted to influence policies on their own behalf – such as zoning approvals.
- Non-profits of any size that are formed to provide direct help to low-income communities would not have to register as lobbyists.
The proposed rules come as the ethics commission completes a two-year overhaul of the rules that govern who must register as a lobbyist, what information they must report, and how often they must file city disclosure forms. An ethics commission official said the package of reforms will first go before the city's Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee, at a date still to be determined.