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PR- 053-06
February 16, 2006


Reforms of Lobbying Laws Will Make System More Transparent and Accountable; Prevent Potential Conflicts of Interest; and Save Taxpayers Money

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today unveiled a five-point plan of lobbying reforms that will strengthen the integrity of City Government, increase its transparency and save taxpayers money. The reforms, which the Mayor addressed at the State of the City speech and Speaker Quinn discussed in her inaugural speech before the City Council, will be the basis for soon-to-be-introduced legislation that will help prevent the kind of scandals and conflicts of interest that have long plagued all levels of government.  The five-point plan (1) bans gifts from lobbyist to government officials; (2) strengthens enforcement of the lobbying law and double the maximum penalties for violations; (3) mandates that lobbyist disclose information about their political consulting and fundraising clients; and (4) creates an online filing system for lobbyists, enhancing the speed and accuracy of public disclosure; and (5) closes the gaping loop-hole that allows lobbyists' contributions to be matched with public funds.

"For too long, scandal has been the impetus for reform," said Mayor Bloomberg. "But we are not going to wait for the lurid tinge of scandal to hit before strengthening the integrity of City government, which should be beyond repute.  This five-point plan of reforms will take major steps towards insulating policymakers from the sway of special and moneyed interests and strengthen the taxpayers' faith in their elected and appointed representatives. I am particularly pleased that I am partnering with Speaker Quinn on this announcement.  In my State of the City speech last month, I called on the City Council to work with me to pass lobbying reform.  Speaker Quinn not only answered that call - she came to the table with lobbying reform ideas of her own.  I want to be the first to commend her for her leadership on this critical issue."

"I am proud to stand with Mayor Bloomberg today in a significant joint effort to reduce the influence of special interests in City government," said Speaker Quinn. "Sadly, we've seen the effect of lobbyists gone wild in Washington and Albany. Today, we are making sure that will not happen at City Hall. We need to make government work better for average New Yorkers, and that means reducing the power of lobbyists and special interests. These measures are a first and very important step toward doing that. With these lobbying reforms, we are moving to make City government more transparent and accessible, and sending a clear message to all New Yorkers that we put people ahead of special interests."

Prohibiting Matching Funds for Lobbyists' Campaign Contributions

  • A $250 contribution from a City lobbyist is matched with $1,000 in public funds.  This is a loophole in the Campaign Finance Program that runs counter to the Program's primary mission: promoting government integrity by reducing candidates' reliance on contributions from special interests.  Contributions from lobbyist, their immediate family and some of their co-workers will no longer be subsidized with public funds. This will not only strengthen the campaign finance system, but will save the taxpayers upwards of $500,000 per citywide election.

Banning Gifts from Lobbyists

  • There is a $50 limit on the value of gifts that City officials may receive from outside sources, including lobbyists.  This proposal will ban all gifts from lobbyists to City officials, strengthening public confidence in government and helping remove potential conflicts of interest that arise when public officials receives gifts and meals from lobbyists.

Creating an Electronic Filing System

  • Lobbyists file paper disclosure records with the City Clerk.  Last year, the Mayor's Office worked with the City Clerk to place all such data online, making it widely available to the public for the first time.  This proposal will create a mandatory electronic filing system that will provide information on lobbyists more quickly and easily and make the lobbying system more transparent.

Requiring Disclosure of Lobbyists' Fundraising and Consulting Activities

  • Lobbyists are not required to disclose their fundraising or political consulting activities, a practice that has grown significantly over the past five years, raising serious concerns about potential conflicts of interest.  As a result of this legislation, lobbyists will be required to disclose information about their consulting and fundraising activities, which will be made available online.

Strengthening Enforcement and Penalties

  • The City Clerk is charged with enforcing the lobbying law, but in practice, the Clerk's office is not equipped to do investigations and enforcement has been difficult. 
    The proposed legislation will create a significantly stronger enforcement mechanism to ensure that all of the provisions of the new law are properly enforced.  In addition, the penalties will increase penalties for violations of the law, with the maximum fine that may be imposed for violations doubling, from $15,000 to $30,000.

In addition to these five major steps, which are part of the Lobbying Reform Bill, the Mayor and Speaker Quinn will send a joint letter to the Conflicts of Interest Board asking for its opinion on whether the current law's "revolving door" protections are sufficiently strong.  Currently, there is one-year ban against former employees lobbying the agencies they left.  Lengthening that period of time, or extending the ban to include all agencies, would require a referendum.


Stu Loeser/Jordan Barowitz   (212) 788-2958

Maria Alvarado (Council)   212 788-7116

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