Chapter 112 Of The Municipal Code

As passed by Cincinnati City Council, May 21, 1997
Ordinance 0151-1997 112-1-S. Staff
Chapter 112, Council Lobbying 112-3. Prohibitions
112-1. Definitions. 112-5. Registration of legislative agent and employer.
112-1-A. Actively Advocate 112-7. Statements of Financial Transactions.
112-1-C. Compensation. 112-9. Complaints; liability for false statement.
112-1-E. Employer. 112-11. Exceptions.
112-1-E1. Engage 112-13. Contingent fees prohibited.
112-1-F. Financial Transaction. 112-15. Lobbying duties of the clerk of council.
112-1-L. Legislation. 112-17. Powers of Office of Contract Compliance and Investigations
112-1-L1. Legislative Agent. 112-99. Penalty.
112-1-P. Person.

REPEALING existing Chapter 112 and reordaining new Chapter 112 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code to provide a comprehensive plan for the registration of legislative agents and the lobbying of Council.

WHEREAS, in 1980, Council passed Chapter 112 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code which dealt with the lobbying of Council in reference to the Cincinnati cable television franchise legislation; and

WHEREAS, it is now timely and appropriate to expand such legislation to place controls on the lobbying of any member of the council or appointee of the council, the city manager, the department directors, or any member of the staff of any public officer or employee, over all City matters and to provide procedures for the registration of legislative agents; and

WHEREAS, the State of Ohio has in place comprehensive legislation which requires registration of legislative agents of the General Assembly and the filing of statements of expenditures concerning the lobbying of members of the General Assembly; and

WHEREAS, Council finds that the State of Ohio lobbying regulations provide a model for such local regulations; and

WHEREAS, Council finds that the enactment of current legislation requiring the registration of legislative agents and the disclosure of their employers, and also the filing of statements making public the financial transactions that may be used to influence Council legislation and hence the policies of the City, is necessary and appropriate and will lead to a better governed City of Cincinnati; now, therefore,

BE IT ORDAINED by the Council of the City of Cincinnati, State of Ohio:

Section 1. That Chapter 112 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code currently in effect is repealed.

Section 2. That new Chapter 112 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code is reordained to read as follows:

CHAPTER 112 COUNCIL LOBBYING:

112-1. DEFINITIONS.

For purposes of this chapter, the words and phrases defined in the sections hereunder shall have the meanings therein respectively ascribed to them unless a different meaning is clearly indicated by the context.

112-1-A. Actively advocate.

"Actively advocate" means to promote, advocate, or oppose the passage, modification, or defeat of any legislation by direct communication with any member of the council or appointee of the council, the city manager, the director of any department listed in the Charter or Administrative Code of the City, or any member of the staff of any public officer or employee listed in this chapter. "Actively advocate" does not include the action of any person not engaged by an employer who has a direct interest in legislation if the person, acting under Section 3 of Article I, Ohio Constitution, assembles together with other persons to consult for their common good, instructs a public officer or employee who is listed in this chapter, or petitions that public officer or employee for the redress of grievances.

112-1-C. Compensation.

"Compensation" means a salary, gift, payment, benefit, subscription, loan, advance, reimbursement, or deposit of money or anything of value; or a contract, promise, or agreement, whether or not legally enforceable, to make compensation.

112-1-E. Employer.

"Employer" means any person who, directly or indirectly, engages a legislative agent.

112-1-E1. Engage.

"Engage" means to make any arrangement, and "engagement" means any arrangement, whereby an individual is employed or retained for compensation to act for or on behalf of an employer to actively advocate.

112-1-F. Financial transaction.

"Financial transaction" means a transaction or activity that is conducted or undertaken for profit and arises from the joint ownership or the ownership or part ownership in common of any real or personal property or any commercial or business enterprise of whatever form or nature between the following:

(1) A legislative agent, his or her employer, or a member of the immediate family of the legislative agent or his or her employer; and

(2) Any member of the council, appointee of the council, the city manager, the director of a department created under the Charter or Administrative Code of the City, or any member of the staff of a public officer or employee listed in this chapter.

"Financial transaction" does not include any transaction or activity described in this section if it is available to the general public on the same terms, or if it is an offer or sale of securities to any person listed in this chapter that is governed by regulation D, 17 C.F.R. 2301.501 to 2301.508, adopted under the authority of the "Securities Act of 1933," 48 Stat. 74, 15 U.S.C.A. and following, or that is governed by a comparable provision under state law.

112-1-L. Legislation.

"Legislation" means ordinances, resolutions, amendments, nominations, and any other matter pending before the council.

112-1-L1. Legislative agent.

"Legislative agent" means any individual, except a member of the council, a member of the staff of the council or the city manager, who is engaged during at least a portion of his time to actively advocate as one of his or her main purposes.

112-1-P. Person.

"Person" means any individual, partnership, trust, estate, business trust, association, or corporation; any labor organization or manufacturer association; any department, commission, board, publicly supported college or university, chapter, institution, bureau, or other instrumentality of the state; or any county, township, municipal corporation, school district, or other political subchapter of the state.

112-1-S. Staff.

"Staff" means any city employee whose official duties are to formulate policy and who exercises administrative or supervisory authority or who authorizes the expenditure of city funds. "Staff" is limited to employees who are required to file a financial disclosure statement under Article XXVI of the Administrative Code.

112-3. Prohibitions.

(A) No legislative agent or employer shall knowingly fail to register as required under section 112-5 of the Municipal Code.

(B) No person shall knowingly fail to file a statement that section 112-5 or 112-7 of the Municipal Code requires the person to file.

(C) No person shall knowingly file a false statement that section 112-5 or 112-7 of the Municipal Code requires the person to file.

112-5. Registration of legislative agent and employer.

(A) Each legislative agent and employer, within ten days following an engagement of a legislative agent, shall file with the clerk of council an initial registration statement showing all of the following:

(1) The name, business address, and occupation of the legislative agent;

(2) The name and business address of the employer on whose behalf the legislative agent is actively advocating. For the purposes of this section, where a trade association or other charitable or fraternal organization that is exempt from federal income taxation under subsection 501(c) of the federal Internal Revenue Code is the employer, the statement need not list the names and addresses of each member of the association or organization, so long as the association or organization itself is listed.

(3) A brief description of the type of legislation to which the engagement relates.

(B) In addition to the initial registration statement required by division (A) of this section, each legislative agent and employer shall file with the clerk of council, not later than the last day of January and July of each year, an updated registration statement that confirms the continuing existence of each engagement described in an initial registration statement and that lists the specific ordinances or resolutions on which the agent actively advocated under that engagement during the period covered by the updated statement, and with it any statement detailing the financial transactions required to be filed by section 112-7 of the Municipal Code.

(C) If a legislative agent is engaged by more than one employer, the agent shall file a separate initial and updated registration statement for each engagement. If an employer engages more than one legislative agent, the employer need file only one updated registration statement under division (B) of this section, which shall contain the information required by division (B) of this section regarding all of the legislative agents engaged by the employer.

(D)(1) A change in any information required by division (A)(1), (2), or (B) of this section shall be reflected in the next updated registration statement filed under division (B) of this section.

(2) Within thirty days after the termination of an engagement, the legislative agent who was employed under the engagement shall send written notification of the termination to the clerk of council.

(E) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, a registration fee of twenty-five dollars shall be charged for filing an initial registration statement. All money collected from this registration fee shall be deposited to the credit of the council lobbying fund created under section 112-15 of the Municipal Code. An officer or employee of a state agency or city department who actively advocates in his fiduciary capacity as a representative of that state agency or city department need not pay the registration fee prescribed by this chapter. As used in this section, "state agency" does not include a state institution of higher education as defined in section 3345.031 of the Revised Code.

(F) Upon registration pursuant to chapter (A) of this section, the legislative agent shall be issued a card by the clerk of council showing that the legislative agent is registered. The registration card and the legislative agent's registration shall be valid from the date of their issuance until the next thirtieth day of November of an odd-numbered year.

(G) The clerk of council shall be responsible for reviewing each registration statement filed under this section and for determining whether the statement contains all of the information required by this section. If the clerk of council determines that the registration statement does not contain all of the required information or that a legislative agent or employer has failed to file a registration statement, the clerk of council shall send written notification by certified mail to the person who filed the registration statement regarding the deficiency in the statement or to the person who failed to file the registration statement regarding the failure. Any person so notified by the clerk of council shall, not later than fifteen days after receiving the notice, file a registration statement or an amended registration statement that does contain all of the information required by this section. If any person who receives a notice under this chapter fails to file a registration statement or such an amended registration statement within this fifteen-day period, the clerk of council shall notify the Office of Contract Compliance and Investigations (OCCI), who may take appropriate action as authorized under section 112-17 of the Municipal Code. If the clerk of council notifies OCCI under this chapter, the clerk of council shall also notify in writing the city manager and each member of the council of the pending investigation.

(H) On or before the fifteenth day of March of each year, the clerk of council shall, in the manner and form that he or she determines, publish a report containing statistical information on the registration statements filed under this section during the preceding year.

112-7. Statements of financial transactions.

(A) Any legislative agent who has had any financial transaction with or for the benefit of any member of the council or appointee of the council, the city manager, or the director of a department created under the Charter or the Administrative Code of the City, or any member of the staff of any public officer or employee listed in this chapter, shall describe the details of the transaction, including the name of the public officer or employee, the purpose and nature of the transaction, and the date it was made or entered into, in a statement filed with the clerk of council with the updated registration statement required by division (B) of section 112-5 of the Municipal Code. The statement shall be filed at the times specified in section 112-5 of the Municipal Code. Each statement shall describe each financial transaction that occurred during the six-calendar-month period that ended on the last day of the month immediately preceding the month in which the statement is required to be filed.

(B) Except as provided in division (D) of this section, any employer who has had any financial transaction with or for the benefit of any member of the council or appointee of the council, the city manager, or the director of a department created under the Charter or the Administrative Code of the City, or any member of the staff of any public officer or employee listed in this chapter, shall describe the details of the transaction, including the name of the public officer or employee, the purpose and nature of the transaction, and the date it was made or entered into, in a statement filed with the clerk of council with the updated registration statement required by division (B) of section 112-5 of the Municipal Code. The statement shall be filed at the times specified in section 112-5 of the Municipal Code. Each statement shall describe each financial transaction that occurred during the six-calendar-month period that ended on the last day of the month immediately preceding the month in which the statement is required to be filed.

(C) An employer or legislative agent who is required to file a statement describing a financial transaction under this section shall deliver a copy of the statement to the public officer or employee with whom or for whose benefit the transaction was made at least ten days before the date on which the statement is filed.

(D) No employer shall be required to file any statement under this section or to deliver a copy of the statement to a public officer or employee with whom or for whose benefit the transaction was made if the financial transaction to which the statement pertains is reported by a legislative agent engaged by the employer.

112-9. Complaints; liability for false statement.

If a dispute arises between any member of the council or a member of the staff of the council and an employer or legislative agent with respect to a financial transaction alleged in any statement to be filed under section 112-7 of the Municipal Code, the member, employer, or legislative agent may file a complaint with the Office of Contract Compliance and Investigations (OCCI). OCCI shall proceed to investigate the complaint as provided for other complaints in section 112-17 of the Municipal Code.

The complaint shall be filed at least three days prior to the time the statement is required to be filed with the clerk of council. The time for filing a disputed financial transaction in any statement of the details of a financial transaction shall be extended pending the final decision of OCCI. This extension does not extend the time for filing the nondisputed details of a financial transaction. OCCI shall notify the parties of the final decision by certified mail. If OCCI decides that the disputed financial transaction should be reported, the employer or legislative agent shall include the matter in an amended statement and file the amended statement not later than ten days after the employer or agent receives notice of the decision of OCCI by certified mail.

An employer or legislative agent who files a false statement of details of a financial transaction is liable in a civil action to any public officer or employee who sustains damage as a result of the filing or publication of the statement.

112-11. Exceptions.

(A) Sections 112-5 and 112-7 of the Municipal Code do not apply to efforts to actively advocate by any of the following:

(1) Appearances before meetings of the committees of the council or the full council, and appearances before public hearings of the committees of the council;

(2) News, editorial, and advertising statements published in bona fide newspapers, journals, or magazines, or broadcast over radio or television;

(3) The gathering and furnishing of information and news by bona fide reporters, correspondents, or news bureaus to news media described in division (A)(2) of this section;

(4) Publications primarily designed for and distributed to members of bona fide associations or charitable or fraternal nonprofit corporations.

(B) Sections 112-1 to 112-17 of the Municipal Code do not affect professional services in drafting ordinances or resolutions, preparing arguments thereon, or in advising clients and rendering opinions as to the construction and the effect of proposed or pending legislation, if the services are not otherwise connected with actions to actively advocate.

(C) Nothing in sections 112-1 to 112-17 of the Municipal Code shall require the reporting of, or prohibit a member of the council from soliciting or accepting, a contribution from or expenditure by any person if the contribution or expenditure is reported in accordance with Chapters 115 and 117 of the Municipal Code.

112-13. Contingent fees prohibited.

No person shall engage any person to actively advocate in exchange for compensation that is contingent in any way upon the passage, modification, or defeat of any legislation. No person shall accept any engagement to actively advocate in exchange for compensation that is contingent in any way upon the passage, modification, or defeat of any legislation.

112-15. Lobbying duties of the clerk of council.

(A) The clerk of council shall keep on file the statements required by sections 112-5 and 112-7 of the Municipal Code. Those statements are public records and open to public inspection, and the clerk of council shall computerize them so that the information contained in them is readily accessible to the general public. The clerk shall provide copies of the statements to the general public upon request and may charge a reasonable fee not to exceed the cost of copying and delivering each statement.

(B) The clerk of council shall prescribe and make available an appropriate form for filing the information required by sections 112-5 and 112-7 of the Municipal Code. The form shall contain the following notice in boldface type: "ANY PERSON WHO KNOWINGLY FILES A FALSE STATEMENT IS GUILTY OF FALSIFICATION UNDER SECTION 2921.13 OF THE REVISED CODE, WHICH IS A MISDEMEANOR OF THE FIRST DEGREE."

(C) The clerk of council shall publish a handbook that explains in clear and concise language sections 112-1 to 112-17 and 112-99 of the Municipal Code and make it available free of charge to members of the council, legislative agents, employers, and any other interested persons.

(D) Not later than the last day of February and October of each year, the clerk of council shall compile from registration statements filed a complete and updated list of registered legislative agents and their employers and distribute the list to each member of the council and the city manager. The clerk shall provide copies of the list to the general public upon request and may charge a reasonable fee not to exceed the cost of copying and delivering the list.

(E) The clerk of council may adopt rules as necessary to implement sections 112-1 to 112-17 of the Municipal Code, and any such rules adopted shall be adopted in accordance with section 111.15 of the Revised Code.

(F) The clerk of council shall exercise the powers and duties prescribed under sections 112-1 to 112-17 of the Municipal Code.

(G) There is hereby created in the city treasury the Council Lobbying Fund No. 396. All money collected from registration fees prescribed under sections 112-5 of the Municipal Code shall be deposited into the city treasury to the credit of the fund. Money credited to the fund and any interest and earnings from the fund shall be used solely for conducting the lobbying duties of the clerk of council and for the purchase of data storage and computerization facilities for the statements filed with the clerk under sections 112-5 and 112-7 of the Municipal Code.

(H) The clerk of council shall issue a written report, not later than the thirty-first day of January of each year, to the mayor that lists the number of filings received during the immediately preceding calendar year.

112-17. Powers of Office of Contract Compliance and Investigations

The Office of Contract Compliance and Investigations may investigate compliance with sections 112-1 to 112-15 of the Municipal Code and with section 2921.13 of the Revised Code in connection with statements required to be filed under these sections and, in the event of an apparent violation, shall report his or her findings to the prosecuting attorney of the City or of Hamilton County, who shall institute such proceedings as are appropriate.

112-99. Penalty.

Whoever violates chapter (A), (B), or (C) of section 112-5 or section 112-13 of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree.

Section 3. This ordinance shall take effect and be in force from and after the earliest period allowed by law.

Passed May 21, 1997