San Francisco voters made it clear Tuesday they want more transparency in lobbying activity.
With the passage of Proposition C, expenditure lobbyists, any person or group, including nonprofits, labor unions and for-profit companies, that spend more than $2,500 in one month to urge city officials will have to register with the Ethics Commission and disclose their activity.
The measure was placed on the ballot by the Ethics Commission. In making its case for the increased lobbying regulations, the commission noted such examples as Airbnb exerting influence on City Hall through funding outside groups to contact city officials or turn up to testify at public meetings. The company did not have to report the activity and spending.
The measure was criticized by nonprofits, who sought an exemption, arguing it would have a “chilling effect” on their advocacy efforts.
Support for the measure came from politicians on both sides of the political aisle, as supervisors David Campos and Scott Wiener both endorsed it.
The City will spend $560,000 to launch the new disclosure program with an annual budget of $15,000.
The measure was seen as a sign that the Ethics Commission has begun to take a more proactive approach to enforcement and regulations after coming under criticism by the San Francisco civil grand jury. The commission is also looking to hire a new executive director who will implement a “more proactive enforcement program.”
Last year, 64 lobbying firms had registered with the Ethics Commission comprising 94 active lobbyists.