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Auditor Mary Hull Caballero

Promoting open and accountable government

Frequently Asked Questions

 

1. What is the purpose of the City's Lobbying Entity Regulation Program?
To preserve the integrity of the City's decision making process by requiring entities that engage in efforts to influence City officials to report their lobbying efforts to the public.
 

2 . When did the program take effect?
City Council passed Ordinance No. 179843 on December 21, 2005 which established the program and adopted City Code Chapter 2.12. The Auditor began accepting registrations on April 1, 2006.
 

3 .  Who is required to register and report?
 
A.     Lobbying Entities that spend 8 or more hours lobbying during a calendar must follow the regulations below. Beginning Sept. 1, 2016, lobbying entities that spend $1,000 on lobbying efforts must also register and report activities. The specific requirements are:
1)    Register each calendar year in which they meet or exceed the 8-hour or $1,000 threshold
 
2)    Report their lobbying activities each calendar quarter in which they meet or exceed the 8-hour or $1,000 threshold. The report includes the subjects of lobbying and description of contacts with City officials, the total amount of lobbying expenditures and information about City officials benefited by expenditures in excess of $25.00.
B.     City Officials must file quarterly reports documenting:
1)    Gifts, meals or entertainment received from a lobbying entity or lobbyist in excess of $25.00 as well as

2)    Any donations or gifts of personal or real property to the City from a lobbying entity or lobbyist.
C.    City Elected Officials and City Directors must post their calendars of activities related to official City business to the web each quarter.
 

4. What is lobbying?
For the purposes of this program, "lobbying" means attempting to influence the official action of City Officials. Lobbying includes time spent preparing emails and letters and preparing for oral communication with a City official. Lobbying does not include:
 
A.     Time spent by an individual representing his or her own opinion to a City official.

B.     Time spent participating in a board, committee, working group, or commission created by City Council through approval of resolution or ordinance.

C.    Time spent by a City Official or City employee acting in their official capacity as an official for the City.

D.    Time spent submitting a bid, responding to related information requests, and negotiating terms on a competitively bid contract or intergovernmental agreement.

E.     Oral or written communication made by a representative of a labor organization that is certified or recognized, pursuant to ORS 243.650 et seq., as the exclusive bargaining representative of employees of the City of Portland, to the extent that such communications do not deal with actual or potential ordinances that are unrelated to the collective bargaining process, or implementation or application of any collective bargaining agreement provision.

F.     Formal appearances to give testimony before public hearings or meetings of City Council.
 
G.     Work performed by a contractor or grantee pursuant to a contract with or grant from the City.
 
H.     Time spent by any person holding elected public office, or their specifically authorized representative, acting in their official capacity.


5. Who is a City Official?
For the purposes of this program, a "City Official" means:
 
A.     Any City elected official (Mayor, Commissioner or Auditor)

B.     At will staff of a City elected official

C.    Director or individual in charge of ("City Director"):
 

a)    Bureau of Development Services

b)    Bureau of Emergency Communications

c)    Bureau of Environmental Services

d)    Bureau of Emergency Management

e)    Bureau of Fire and Police Disability and Retirement

f)     Bureau of Housing

g)    Bureau of Human Resources

h)    Bureau of Internal Business Services

i)     Bureau of Parks & Recreation

j)     Bureau of Planning and Sustainability

k)    Bureau of Police

l)     Bureau of Revenue and Financial Services

m)   Bureau of Technology Services

n)    City Budget Office

o)    Office of Equity and Human Rights

p)    Office of Government Relations

q)    Office of Management & Finance

r)     Office of Neighborhood Involvement

s)     Portland Bureau of Transportation

t)     Portland Development Commission

u)    Portland Fire & Rescue

v)    Portland Water Bureau

D.    Appointee to the:
1) Design Commission
2) Fire & Police Disability & Retirement Board
3) Portland Development Commission
4) Portland Planning & Sustainability Commission

6 .  What is an Official Action?
For the purposes of this program, an "Official Action" is the introduction, sponsorship, testimony, debate, voting or any other official action on any ordinance, measure, resolution, amendment, nomination, appointment, or report, or any matter, including administrative action, that may be the subject of action by the City.
 

7 . Is my organization a Lobbying Entity?
City Code defines a "Lobbying Entity" as any individual, business association, corporation, partnership, association, club, company, business trust, organization or other group who lobbies either by employing or otherwise authorizing a lobbyist to lobby on that person's behalf.
Specific City working groups that have been recognized by Council and are exempt from lobbying reporting are listed here
 

8 .  Are any groups exempt from registering as a Lobbying Entity?
Yes. City Code exempts the following from the registration and reporting requirements:
 
A.     News media, or their employers or agents, that in the ordinary course of business directly or indirectly urge official action but that engage in no other activities in connection with the official action. OR

B.     Lobbying entities that spent fewer than 8 hours lobbying during every calendar quarter in a calendar year. OR

C.    Any lobbying entity that satisfies all three of the following requirements:
1)    Complies with state public record and meeting laws or with the standards adopted by City Council that govern Neighborhood Associations, District Coalitions, and Business District Associations referenced in City Code Section 3.96.020 G.;
 
2)    Is classified as a non-profit organization, registered with the Oregon Secretary of State Corporation Division; AND
 
3)    Is formally recognized by the Office of Neighborhood Involvement or through City Council resolution or ordinance.
In addition, lobbying entities that meet or exceed the 8-hour threshold but do not spend more than $1,000 per calendar quarter may file a certificate of limited expenditure in lieu of detailed quarterly reports.
 

9 . Who qualifies as a Lobbyist?
A lobbyist is any individual who is authorized to lobby on behalf of a lobbying entity.  A lobbyist could include a member of an outside government relations firm or a volunteer working on behalf of an organization.  
Specific City working groups that have been recognized by Council and are exempt from lobbying reporting are listed here
 

10.  What is consideration?
For the purposes of this program, "consideration" means a gift, payment, distribution, loan, advance or deposit of money or anything of value, and includes a contract, promise or agreement, whether or not legally enforceable.
 

11.  Am I lobbying if I share my personal opinions with City officials?
No. Time spent by an individual representing his or her own opinion to a City official is not considered lobbying for the purposes of this program.


12.  What does an individual Lobbyist have to file?
Individual lobbyists do not have reporting requirements. However, they will need to be sure to document their lobbying activity and share it with the lobbying entity on whose behalf they lobby City officials. The lobbying entity will need to register and report if the lobbying activity meets or exceeds the cumulative 8-hour threshold.
 
In addition, a lobbyist must declare which lobbying entity he or she is  authorized to represent prior to offering public testimony before City officials, at the beginning of any meetings or phone calls with City Officials, or in emails and letters to City officials.
 

13.  How does a lobbying entity calculate the cumulative 8-hour threshold?
The 8-hour threshold is cumulative - the sum total of all lobbying activities by all authorized lobbyists. For example:
 
       Lobbying Entity:  Tuesday Afternoon Lobbying Firm - 4th Quarter 2015
      Lobbyist Polly Talker spends 1 hour preparing documents in preparation for her meetings with City Officials
        Lobbyist Polly Talker spends 2 hours total lobbying the City
        Lobbyist George Writer spends 1 hour total preparing his client to meet with a City Official
        Lobbyist George Writer spends 3 hours total lobbying the City
        Cumulative total for lobbying entity during 4th Quarter =  7 hours
        No reporting requirement
 

14.  What registration fees must be paid and what penalties may be assessed?
 
A.     There is no registration fee and no cost to use the City's Online Lobbying Entity Registration & Reporting system.
 
B.     A person or entity may be subject to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed $500.00 per violation. Beginning Sept. 1, 2016 the amount increases to $3,000 for certain violations.  Aggravating and mitigating factors may be considered when determining appropriate penalties.  Violations occur if any person or entity:
1)    Violates any provision of City Code Chapter 2.12 OR
2)    Fails to file any report, registration or statement required by Chapter 2.12 OR
3)    Fails to furnish any information required by Chapter 2.12.
At the request of the Auditor, the City Attorney may seek civil penalties and enforcement of any provision of Chapter 2.12 in Multnomah County Circuit Court or other appropriate venue.
 

15.  What are the Lobbying Entity registration requirements?
 
A.     Lobbying entities are required to register with the City Auditor if they spend a cumulative total (all authorized lobbyists) of 8 hours or more lobbying during any calendar quarter or beginning Sept. 1, 2016 if an entity spends $1,000 or more in a calendar quarter on lobbying efforts. The lobbying entity must register within 3 business days of meeting or exceeding the 8-hour or $1,000 threshold. However, lobbying entities who anticipate meeting or exceeding the thresholds are encouraged to register at the beginning of the calendar year.

B.     There is no registration fee.

C.    Lobbying entities must use the Auditor's Office Online Lobbying Entity Registration & Reporting System to file their registrations. This is a free internet-based system. If a lobbying entity does not have internet access, they may make arrangements to use a public computer in the City Auditor's office.

D.    The following information is required on the registration form:
1)    Lobbying Entity name, address, e-mail, phone (website is optional)
 
2)    General description of trade, business, profession or area of endeavor of lobbying entity
 
3)    General subjects and any specific official actions of lobbying entity

4)    Names, address and contact information for all lobbyists authorized to lobby on behalf of the lobbying entity.
5)    The previous employment of any lobbyists with the City of Portland, length of time employed by the City, and the affiliated office(s) or bureau(s) of employment
E.     Registrations expire at the end of each calendar year on December 31st.
 
F.     Lobbying entities must file an amended registration whenever any of the information disclosed on the registration form changes. 

16.  What are the lobbying entity reporting requirements?
 
A.     If a lobbying entity has spent an cumulative total (of all authorized lobbyists) of 8 hours or more lobbying during the preceding quarter, they must file a quarterly report.  Beginning Sept. 1, 2016, any lobbying entities who spend at least $1,000 or more lobbying in a calendar quarter must also file a quarterly report.

B.     Lobbying entities must use the Auditor's Office Online Lobbying Entity Registration & Reporting System to file their quarterly reports.  This is a free internet-based system. If a lobbying entity does not have internet access, they may make arrangements to use a public computer in the City Auditor's office.

C.    If a lobbying entity does not anticipate spending more than $1,000 per calendar quarter for the purpose of lobbying, the entity may file a certificate of limited expenditure in lieu of a quarterly report.

D.    The quarterly report has 3 main components:
1)    Subject(s) of Interest:  lists specific subject areas and official actions of interest, name of City official contacted, date of contact and type of contact.

2)    Expenditures:  total of all moneys expended by the lobbying entity or any authorized lobbyist for the purpose of lobbying City officials in the preceding calendar quarter.
i.   The following must be included in the total:
  • food, refreshments, travel & entertainment
  • printed, postage, telephone, advertising, direct mail and e-mail
  • miscellaneous items and gifts
  • compensation paid to lobbyists AND
  • reimbursements to lobbyists for their expenses
ii.  The following are not required to be included in the total:
  • personal living
  • travel expenses
  • office overhead, including salaries and wages paid for staff and administrative/clarical assistance, or
  • maintenance expenses
If the exact total amount of expenditures is not accurately known at the time the report is due, an estimate may be submitted.  The exact amount expended shall be submitted on an amended report when the information is available.
3)    City Officials benefited:  name of any City Official to whom or for whose benefit, on any one occasion, the lobbying entity made an expenditure in excess of $25.00 in the preceding calendar quarter for the purposes of lobbying, date of expenditure, name of payee, purpose of expenditure, and amount of expenditure.

17.  When are registrations & reports due?
 
A.     Lobbying Entity registrations are due within 3 business days of meeting or exceeding the 8-hour threshold or beginning Sept. 1, 2016, after the entity has spent $1,000 in a calendar quarter lobbying City Officials. 

B.     Lobbying entity quarterly reports, City Official quarterly reports and Elected Official/Director calendar postings are due:
 
Quarter             Reporting Period                        Last Day to File
1                      January 1 to March 31                 April 15
2                      April 1 to June 30                        July 15
3                      July 1 to September 30               October 15
4                      October 1 to December 31          January 15
 
C.    All registrations and reports are due by 5:00 pm on the last day to file.

D.    If a filing deadline falls on a Saturday, Sunday or other legal City holiday, the report shall be due by 5:00 pm the next business day.
 

18.  Are there any prohibited activities?
Yes. As of Sept. 1st, 2016, prohibited conduct focus on post-employment of certain City Officials. Details of prohibitions for each type of official is listed below:
  • No former City elected official shall, for a period of two years after the termination of the official's term of office, lobby for money or other consideration a City elected official or their salaried at-will staff. 

  • No former salaried at-will staff of a City elected official, shall, for a period of one year after the termination of employment, lobby for money or other consideration any City elected official or their salaried at-will staff. 

  • No former City director shall, for a period of two years after termination of the director's appointment, lobby for money or other consideration the current City director of the office or bureau to which the former City director was appointed or, regarding matters within the powers and duties of the bureau to which the former City director was appointed.  

  • No former City employee shall lobby a City Official for money or other consideration regarding a contract if the employee exercised contract management authority with respect to that contract while employed by he City. 
 
These prohibitions shall not apply to:
 
A.     Prevent any former City Elected Official or other City employee from representing himself or herself, or any member of his or her immediate family, in their individual capacities, in connection with any matter pending before the City;

B.     The activities of any former City Elected Official or other City employee who is an elected or appointed officer or employee of any public body, when that former City Elected Official or other City employee is solely representing that agency in his or her official capacity as an officer or employee of the public body;

C.    Any ministerial action. A ministerial action is one that does not require a City official or other City employee to exercise discretion concerning any outcome or course of action;

D.    Prevent City officials or other City employees from seeking information or participating from former City elected officials or other City employees where the public interest would be served by the information or participation.
 

19.  Are the registrations and reports available for public review?
All registrations and reports are public records. The Auditor's Office provides 24-hour access register, submit reports, or view the latest quarterly statements from the lobbyist registration program home page. 
 
If a lobbying entity or member of the public does not have internet access, they may make arrangements to use a public computer in the City Auditor's office.


20.  Has the implementation and effectiveness of this program been reviewed?
Yes. Ordinance No. 179843 directed the Commissioner of Public Utilities to submit two reports to City Council. These reports were accepted by Council on November 15, 2006 and June 20, 2007. The reports gathered input from stakeholders and the City Auditor and reviewed the implementation and effectiveness of the lobbying entity regulation program.
Ordinance 187854 suggested improvements to the program and was passed by City Council June 29, 2016. The Auditor's Office based changes on best and leading practices and involved lobbyists, advocates and community groups, and City Officials throughout the process.