New, Ongoing Filing Obligations for Santa Monica Lobbying Entities
The Santa Monica City Council recently amended its new lobbying law (which was just enacted last fall) to clarify that registered lobbying entities must file an “addendum” to their registrations within 10 days of any change in their lobbying activities, including working on a new City matter, adding a new client, and – perhaps most notably – when they have a lobbying contact with a City Official or employee.
In other words, the City must be notified whenever a registered lobbyist – whether working at a consulting or law firm, or as a full-time employee for a business, real estate developer or nonprofit organization – sends an email or text, makes a telephone call, or meets with a Councilperson, Councilperson’s aide, member of the Planning Commission, Planning Department employee, or any other City official or employee for the purpose of influencing a City government matter. The amended law also clarifies that lobbyists must file these addenda more quickly if they contact a City official or employee during the days leading up to a public hearing on a matter; in this case, the lobbyists must make certain that the addendum is on file with the City Clerk before the meeting.
These reports are still filed via paper rather than electronically, but the City Clerk’s office now uploads the names of City officials and employees contacted by lobbyists
to its website on a weekly basis. See https://www.smgov.net/uploadedFiles/Departments/Clerk/Lobbyist/Log-Registrations.pdf.
This ongoing filing obligation is arguably the most onerous lobbying reporting requirement in the state; the vast majority of local lobbying laws only require filing on a quarterly basis, with one local jurisdiction requiring monthly filings. Based on the lists of registered lobbyists and their contacts now posted on the City Clerk’s website, most lobbyists are evidently not yet filing an addendum every time they email or talk to a City official or employee.
The City Clerk confirmed that this filing requirement could lead to lobbyists filing multiple addenda on an ongoing basis. It thus could become a burden for lobbyists who communicate with City employees on a daily or weekly basis for one or more clients. It could also become a trap for the unwary, as registered lobbyists who are not as active may easily overlook this filing requirement. We recommend that you consider posting a calendar reminder every two weeks to determine whether you have to file an addendum to report your lobbying contacts with Santa Monica City officials or employees.
* * *
Feel free to call any Sutton Law Firm attorney or Political Compliance Specialist with questions about this new Santa Monica lobbying reporting requirement, or about lobbying reporting requirements in other jurisdictions.
THIS ALERT IS INTENDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.