Orange County’s largest city is targeting lobbyists and lobbying groups to make a greater push for transparency in its local government.
The Anaheim City Council last week voted 5-2 to approve a so-called “sunshine ordinance” that would bar council members from hiring as policy aides people who concurrently work at local lobbying firms that conduct business with the city.
The city would also require lobbyists to pay a yet-to-be-determined amount to register with the city and report on a regular basis who they are lobbying on behalf of and what projects they are lobbying for as part of a quarterly statement filed with the city clerk. The clerk would then publish an annual report available to the public of lobbyist activities.
Additionally, elected officials and city staff would be prohibited from working as a lobbyist for a firm that deals with the city for two years after leaving their Anaheim position.
“This is about folks who are compensated to directly influence through communication and agents the decision-making process of our city. That needs to be transparent,” said Councilman Jose Moreno, who introduced the law. “We need to make sure we are ethical in our approach, that folks who are paid to influence us aren’t also simultaneously being paid by the city to make that decision.”
Mayor Tom Tait and council members Denise Barnes, James Vanderbilt and Stephen Faessel favored the new rules.
Councilwoman Lucille Kring, who along with Councilwoman Kris Murray cast dissenting votes, called the law an “overreach.”
“I think it’s going to create a lot of problems and a lot of people will not bring business to the city because they don’t want to go through this nonsense,” said Kring, who further questioned where nonprofits who raise money for candidates and lobby city officials fit into the ordinance.
Some council members were concerned the ordinance would cost them their policy aides. Faessel’s part-time aide works at a Sacramento-based lobbying firm that deals with the city.
“Despite my misgivings, I support transparency and an open government,” Faessel said. “However, I’m concerned with this method that not all of us are treated alike and it might cost my aide her employment.”
Faessel said he plans to get an opinion from the city attorney and will proceed from there.
Murray said she wants to strengthen the ordinance, “to get it right.” She proposed an amendment to include specific language about conflict of…