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Santa Monica Could Require Lobbyists to Register

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By Niki Cervantes
Staff Writer

December 18 – The Santa Monica City Council Tuesday directed staff to craft an ordinance that would require all lobbyists and others involved in municipal business to register with the City.

Council members broadened the original proposal by Councilmember Sue Himmelrich and Mayor Pro Tem Tony Vazquez to include not only those benefiting directly from City business, but any entity weighing in on issues.

The proposed ordinance “would make our processes more transparent,” Himmelrich said.

Voting unanimously, the council directed the City Attorney’s office to begin researching the issue and crafting language for the proposal.

Members told city attorneys not to worry about hurrying, though, noting the office already has a full plate of issues to juggle.
“It’s not something we have to do in a rush,” Vazquez said.

Many governments, including Los Angeles City and Los Angeles County, require lobbyist to register. Council members want to make sure, however, that all parties engaged in City matters are considered.

Council member Pam O’Connor said registration should be required for everyone from local neighborhood representatives with issues before the council to paid lobbyists. O’Connor was opposed targeted by slow-growth groups during her campaign in November.

Councilmember Gleam Davis cautioned that transparency needs to include those who influence the lobbyists and others who try, behind the scenes, to influence the council. Such “indirect” lobbying needs to be considered, she said.

Nor, council members said, should the law apply only to those lobbying for a particular decision or parties who expect to benefit in a positive way from council action. 

Those who come forward in opposition should be registered as well, they said.

The language originally proposed to the council by Vazquez and Himmelrich was to require lobbyists “representing clients who seek benefits or contracts from the City to register with the City and provide other information that will help promote transparency.”

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