December 13, 2023 •
Chicago Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight Recommends Lobbying Amendments
The Chicago City Council Committee on Ethics and Government Oversight recommended the passage of a substitute ordinance broadening the definition of registered lobbyists to include nonprofits with several exceptions to ease concerns from the nonprofit community.
An ordinance was passed in July 2019 to impose new registration and reporting requirements on certain nonprofit interactions with the city, but after many concerns were raised, implementation never took place.
Substitute Ordinance 2023-2937 clarifies the definition of lobbying to make it easier for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations to understand.
Lobbyist is any individual who, on behalf of any other person, contacts or communicates directly with a city official or employee to influence any administrative action or legislative action.
The ordinance also amends the exceptions to the definition of lobbying to exempt any nonprofit entity having both an operating budget and net assets or fund balances of less than $5 million.
The ordinance also establishes a monetary and hourly threshold for registration.
Registration is required for lobbyists who are paid or otherwise compensated, or spend at least $1,250, in any combination, for lobbying in any lobbyist reporting period; or who spend more than 20 hours on lobbying in any lobbyist reporting period.
The ordinance also adds definitions concerning grassroots lobbying, reporting periods, covered activity, and exemptions.
Total fines for failure to file a report would be capped at $20,000 per violation.
If passed, the ordinance will be effective July 1, 2024, to give the Board of Ethics ample time to conduct a robust public education campaign.
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