An Important Ethics Update

The City of Chicago’s City Council adopted a new lobbyist registration ordinance in July focused on ethics reform.

By Chicago Law Partners, LLC

FRM 005 Law Review Ethics Update

As you may be aware, the City of Chicago’s City Council adopted a new lobbyist registration ordinance (SO2019-5305) in July focused on ethics reform. Among other things, the new ordinance requires a nonprofit organization’s paid staff, contractors and pro bono representatives, as well as volunteer leaders and organizers (in some circumstances), to register as lobbyists with the City if they represent or support a City law or ordinance that would further the interests of the organization or its membership. While generally supportive of the Mayor’s efforts to implement ethics reform, the Forum had significant concerns with the new ordinance and was able to share those directly with the Mayor’s office and the Board of Ethics.

Specifically, the Forum’s efforts focused on improving the new ordinance’s overly broad and vague definition of “lobbying” and overbroad and burdensome registration and reporting requirements for nonprofits.

The new ordinance was set to go into effect on January 20, 2020. Given the new requirements and the desire of all stakeholders that the ordinance be rolled out without undue hardship, we are happy to report that the Mayor has delayed the enforcement and effective date of the nonprofit lobbyist registration requirements by three (3) months to April 20, 2020. In the meantime, the City Board of Ethics has been directed to develop rules and advisory opinions to provide further clarity and direction to nonprofits and their leaders regarding their registration obligations under the new ordinance.

We will continue to advocate on behalf of the Forum and its members with respect to the ordinance and keep you informed of developments.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Kimberly Pendo at kpendo@clpchicago.com or Jed Mandel at jmandel@clpchicago.com.

Stay up to date: Find the latest news on Chicago lobbying ethics at chicago.gov/ city/en/depts/ethics/provdrs/lobby.html.

About the Author

Written by Chicago Law Partners, LLC.

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