IDs nearer to lobbyists’ lapels

Within three months, lobbyists paid to influence City Hall decision making could be forced to wear highly visible identification badges under a proposed law up for a vote Tuesday.

Reported money spent on lobbying efforts is on the rise in San Francisco. In 1996, $2.7 million was spent on lobbying efforts by those required to report the funds; last year, $7.1 million was spent on lobbying efforts, according to reports by The City’s Ethics Commission.

There are 43 lobbyists currently registered with The City. During the first six months of the year, lobbyists reported receiving $3.9 million from clients.

“This is not a ‘Scarlet Letter’ or some kind of marking that carries with it necessarily a negative identity,” said Supervisor Chris Daly, who proposed the legislation. “Lobbyists do represent entities that do have more influence than oftentimes a member of the general public.”

Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who voted against the bill, said he was “uncomfortable with requiring that people have to wear badges.”

“I think that there are individuals and organizations that are equally formidable as any legislative advocate is,” he said.

The Board of Supervisors Rules Committee voted 2-1 Thursday to send the bill to the full board for a vote Tuesday. If approved, lobbyists would have to begin wearing the badges within 60 days.

The Ethics Commission would determine the look of the badges, which are required to display the word “Lobbyist” and the name of the lobbyist. The badge would have to be worn whenever the lobbyist is making contact with a city official. </p>

Supervisor Tom Ammiano said the proposed law is “worthy” of passage and that “the public is intrigued by who the players are.”

Lobbyists who are required to register with the Ethics Commission would have to wear the badges. Those who earn $3,200 in any consecutive three months for lobbying services or who have at least 25 separate contacts with city officials during any two months must register.

Alex Clemens, owner of Barbary Coast Consulting, said the badge would be a minor inconvenience.

“San Francisco lobbyists already operate in a remarkably transparent fashion,” Clemens said.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

Lobbying for badges

Some of the clients represented by lobbyists in San Francisco:

  • Bay Area Rapid Transit
  • California Pacific Medical Center
  • Chevron U.S.A. Inc.
  • Clear Channel Outdoor Inc.
  • Golden Gate Restaurant Association
  • Home Depot
  • Lennar Bay Area Urban
  • Pier 39
  • San Francisco Forty-Niners Ltd.
  • SEIU Local 247
  • Sequoia Voting Systems
  • The Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco

Source: San Francisco Ethics Commission, clients of contract lobbyists

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