LA Council Delays Consideration of Reforming City's Lobbying Rules

L.A. City Council Holds First In-Person Meeting Since Voting In New President

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The City Council delayed consideration of an item Wednesday that would have reformed Los Angeles' lobbying ordinance for the first time in decades.

Last week, the council's ad hoc committee on governance reform recommended the approval of an ethics commission report that would place stricter rules on people or organizations looking to impact city policy.

It was set to come before the council Wednesday, but Council President Paul Krekorian said during the meeting that the item has since had "considerable stakeholder input." Krekorian referred it back to the committee for further consideration to "address some of the issues that have been raised."

Krekorian also chairs the ad hoc committee on governance reform.

The city's Municipal Lobbying Ordinance has not been comprehensively updated since its adoption in 1994, with two prior recommendations by the ethics commission expiring after the council did not take action on them.

But the racist audio leaked last October involving three council members -- two of them now former members -- spurred the creation of the special council committee, which took up the ethics commission's May 2022 recommendations last Monday.

Among the recommendations by the ethics commission included setting a compensation limit of $5,000 received in a calendar year before someone must register as a lobbyist. Of the 10 largest cities in the country, only Los Angeles does not have a lobbyist registration threshold that is based on compensation.

Currently, the city defines a lobbyist as anyone who engages in lobbying activity for 30 or more hours in a three-month period, but the commission noted that poses a compliance and enforcement challenge because tracking hours can be difficult.

Another recommendation would require lobbyists to identify their positions on the matters about which they are lobbying.

On fundraising, the commission called for requiring disclosures when lobbyists distribute political fundraiser solicitations to 15 or more people, a reduction from the current 50-copy threshold.

Regarding gifts, the commission called for closing a loophole that would allow a client of a lobbyist to make gifts, as that restriction applies to the lobbyists but not to their clients -- who have the "greatest interest in the outcome of a city decision."

The commission had also proposed broader exemptions for nonprofits, but the committee decided to eliminate a $2 million annual gross receipts threshold as well as a condition that organizations providing  "assistance to disadvantaged people without charge or at a significantly below-market rate" would be exempt from registering as a lobbying entity.

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