General Questions About Lobbyist Registration
- What agency is responsible for administering the lobbying laws in the City of Cincinnati?
The Clerk of Council administers the lobbying disclosure law.
- What is the lobbying disclosure law?
The lobbying disclosure law consists of a general requirement that people, organizations or other groups who expend funds or receive compensation to influence legislative or administrative action of the City must register with the Clerk of Council of the City. The purpose of the law is to allow the public to know which persons or entities are making a significant effort to influence public policy. The provisions of the law can be found in Chapter 112 of the Cincinnati Municipal Code.
- Who should register as a legislative agent or employer?
Whether a person should register as a legislative agent is determined by the person's activity. A legislative agent is any individual who is engaged by an employer during at least a portion of his or her time, as one of his or her main purposes, to promote, advocate, or oppose the passage, modification, defeat, or executive approval or veto of any legislation by direct communication. If the advocacy by direct communication regarding legislation is directed to any councilmember, appointee of the Council, the City Manager, the director of any department created in the Administrative Code, or the staff of any such public official and the person is attempting to influence legislation, then the person engaged in such advocacy is a legislative agent.
- What does "during at least a portion of his or her time, as one of his or her main purposes" mean?
In other words, at what point have you performed sufficient activity to warrant registration as a legislative agent? As a rule of thumb, if you have made direct contact at least three times for the purpose of influencing legislation during a calendar year, you should be registered as a legislative agent.
- Can a company, consulting firm, or law firm be engaged as a legislative agent?
Only individuals can be legislative agents; a company, consulting firm, or a law firm cannot be engaged as a legislative agent. Below are the statutory definitions found in C.M.C. 112-1 et seq.
- Who is a legislative agent?
A legislative agent is any individual who is engaged during at least a portion of his or her time to actively advocate as one of his or her main purposes.
- Engaged 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.
- 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.
- Actively advocate means to promote, advocate, or oppose the passage, modification, defeat, or executive approval or veto of any legislation by direct communication with any member of the Council, appointee of the Council, the City Manager, the director of any department listed in the Administrative Code, or any member of the staff or employee of such public official. 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 division, or petitions that public officer or employee for the redress of grievances.
- Legislation means ordinances, resolutions, amendments, nominations, and any other matter pending before the Council.
- 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.
- What is an employer of a legislative agent?
An employer means any person who, directly or indirectly, engages a legislative agent.
- 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, division, institution, bureau, or other instrumentality of the state; or any county, township, municipal corporation, school district, or other political subdivision of the state.
- Employer does not include any person: (1) who is a member of a business, trade, professional, civic or other membership organization which employs a legislative agent; and (2) who does not directly employ a legislative agent.
- Who is exempt from registering?
The legislative lobbying laws do not apply to the efforts of persons or entities who are actively advocating in any of the following circumstances:
- Appearances before meetings of the committees of the Council or the full Council, and appearances before public hearings of the committees of the Council.
- News, editorial, and advertising statements published in bona fide newspapers, journals, or magazines, or broadcast over radio or television.
- The gathering and furnishing of information and news by bona fide reporters, correspondents, or news bureaus to news media described above.
- Publications primarily designed for and distributed to members of bona fide associations or charitable or fraternal nonprofit corporations.
- Also excepted from the lobbying laws are 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.