Ethics Commission
City and County of San Francisco

New Expenditure Lobbyist Regulations Now Available at SFEthics.org

For release: Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Contact: LeeAnn Pelham, (415) 252-3100

NEW EXPENDITURE LOBBYIST REGULATIONS NOW AVAILABLE AT SFETHICS.ORG

Regulations adopted to clarify terms and promote compliance with voter-approved Prop. C

New regulations approved this week by the Ethics Commission to implement the Expenditure Lobbyist provisions of City law are now available on the Commission’s website. Adopted at the Commission’s monthly meeting on February 29, 2016, the new regulations clarify how the Commission will implement the registration and reporting provisions of Proposition C, which established public disclosure requirements for Expenditure Lobbyists similar to those under City law for contact lobbyists. Prop. C, which was placed on the November 5, 2015, ballot by the Ethics Commission and approved by San Francisco voters with approximately 75% of the vote, requires persons who make payments to communicate with others to urge them to contact City and County officials in an attempt to influence local legislative or administrative action to register and regularly report their activities.

“To ensure their effectiveness, the rules we administer and enforce need to be clear, practical, and strong,” Commission President Paul Renne said following the Commission’s meeting. “We appreciate the involvement of the many organizations and individuals that helped us strike that balance with these expenditure lobbyist regulations.”

The Commission adopted regulations to provide further guidance and promote compliance with the law in response to questions received from interested persons about terms used in Prop. C. Regulations were developed with input from two interested persons meetings on the law’s implementation held by Commission staff in December and January, from public comment provided at the Commission’s regular meeting on January 25, 2016, and from further public comment received in response to revised draft regulations that were circulated by Staff in early February, prior to the commission’s action on February 29th.

In summary, the new Expenditure Lobbyist regulations address the following:

Regulation 2.105-5 Expenditure Lobbyist Definition

  • payments are considered “made” for an activity to solicit, request, or urge others to lobby City and county officers at the time the activity takes place; payments made for those activities will count toward qualification as an Expenditure Lobbyist if within six months of the payment the services or work product paid for are cited, incorporated, or quoted in a communication that urges others to lobby local officers; salary paid by an employer to an employee for those activities do not constitute a payment for qualification purposes; and payments made prior to the February 1, 2016 implementation date of Prop. C do not count for purposes of registration or reporting.

Regulation 2.105-6 Payments for Communication with Members

  • payments made by an organization to distribute communications to its employees, shareholders, to a person who pays dues or fees to an organization, or to any other person who affirmatively requests to regularly receive an organization’s communications, do not count for determining qualification as an Expenditure Lobbyist.

Regulation 2.110-10 Registration and Reporting

  • forms to be used for registration and monthly reports are SFEC Form 2110A and 2110B, respectively; for reporting purposes, payments are “made” on the date the activity to urge others to lobby local officers occurs; reportable contributions include those that would be required to be disclosed under Ethics Commission regulation 2.110-4; salary paid to an employee of an Expenditure Lobbyist does not constitute a payment for purposes of reporting; and monthly reporting requirements continue to apply until a registered Expenditure Lobbyist ceases all expenditure lobbying activity and affirmatively terminates registration.

Regulation 2.110-11 Fees

  • the $500 registration fee and $500 annual re-registration fee will be waived for 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations that file or reasonably intend to file an IRS Form 990-EZ or IRS Form 990-N, or otherwise demonstrate that their annual budget is $500,000 or less.

An annotated copy of the new Prop. C regulations can be found at by linking to the following page: https://www.sfethics.org/ethics/2016/03/annotated-prop-c-regulations.html. They also appear in the body of updated Lobbyist Ordinance Regulations at https://www.sfethics.org/ethics/2009/05/lobbyist-regulations.html

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