Register as a lobbyist

On July 19, 2022, the City Council adopted a lobbyist registration ordinance. The lobbyist registration ordinance is a policy that outlines disclosure requirements for lobbyists. For the purposes of this policy, "lobbyist" means any individual, business entity or organization, including a nonprofit organization, that receives or becomes entitled to receive $500 or more in consideration in a calendar month, other than reimbursement for reasonable travel expenses, to communicate, directly or through his or her agents, on behalf of any other person or entity, with any elected or appointed official of the City for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action of the City of Santa Ana.

Questions and answers

Need help understanding the lobbyist registration policy? Check out the questions and answers below.

Note: These questions and answers do not constitute legal advice. You're encouraged to seek independent legal advice from a licensed attorney.

1. Who has to register as a lobbyist?

  1. An individual that receives or becomes entitled to receive $500 or more[1], whether money or other forms of consideration, in a calendar month, to communicate, directly or through his or her agents, on behalf of any other person or entity, with any elected or appointed official of the City for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action of the City of Santa Ana is required to register as a lobbyist.
  2. A business entity or organization, including a non-profit organization, that received or becomes entitled to receive $500 or more[2], whether money or other forms of consideration, in a calendar month, to communicate, directly or through his or her agents, on behalf of any other person or entity, with any elected or appointed official of the City for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action of the City of Santa Ana is required to registered as a lobbyist.

2. Who is exempt from registering as a lobbyist?

The following individuals, business entities and organizations do not have to register as a lobbyist:

A.        If the purpose of their contact with an elected or appointed official of the City is not for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action of the City.

B.        Any public official acting is his or her official capacity.

C.        Any government official or employee acting within the scope of his or her employment.

D.        Any person, business entity or organization acting without compensation or consideration other than reimbursement or payment of reasonable travel expenses.

E.         Any person representing themselves in attempting to obtain decisions related to their own property or business.

F.         Any person appearing solely at the request or demand of city staff for the purpose of providing information at a public hearing or enforcement proceeding.

G.         Any person whose only activity is submitting a bid on a competitively bid contract, submitting a written response to or participating in an oral interview related to a request for proposals or qualifications, or negotiating the terms of a written agreement with any city agency following a request for proposals or request for qualifications process.

H.        A newspaper, magazine, blog, radio, TV station or network and an individual who owns, publishes or is employed by such entity, when in the ordinary course of business, it publishes or broadcasts new, editorials or other comments, or paid advertising, which directly or indirectly attempts to influence city officials or employees regarding current or future City legislation, administrative decisions, or City Council elections or local initiative measures, if such entity or individual engages in no other activities to influence a municipal decision.

3.  What is the deadline for registering as a lobbyist?

15 business days of qualifying as a lobbyist.

4. I just want to speak to the City Council during public comment, do I need to register?

It depends.  If you qualify as a lobbyist and no exemption applies, then you must register.

5. How do I register?

All registration forms and disclosure reports are required to be filed through the City Clerk’s electronic filing system.  If the electronic filing system is not working, the lobbyist should contact the City Clerk’s office for an email address for the City Clerk’s office to file the form and/or disclosure reports.  All forms and report forms are available through the City Clerk’s office.

6. What information do I need to provide to register as a Lobbyist?

A lobbyist is required to provide the following information as part of the registration process:

A.        Name of lobbyist or lobbying firm.

B.        Business mailing address.

C.        Email address.

D.        Telephone number.

E.         The names of all owners of the lobbyist business.

F.         The names of each individual lobbyist.

G.        A description of the nature of the business entity or corporation (what type of work or business).

H.        The name, business address, telephone number, and email address of each client receiving lobbying services.

I.          The nature of each client’s business.

J.         A brief description of the governmental decision that the lobbyist seeks to influence on each client’s behalf, the desire outcome, and the names of the officials the lobbyist has contacted on each client’s behalf.

K.        The name of each person employed or retained by the lobbyist to engage in lobbying activities on each client’s behalf.

L.         The date, amount, description of any payment made to, or on behalf of any city official or member of an official’s family.  Payments include gifts, meals, fees, salaries and any other form of compensation or remuneration.

7. Is there a fee for registering?

Yes.  The fee is set by the City’s miscellaneous fee schedule.

8. How often do I have to register?

Registration is annual and expires on January 2nd of every year unless terminated in writing before January 2nd.

9. If I have to register, do I need to file any reports?

A.        In addition to registering, every lobbyist must file disclosure reports.  The disclosure reports include an annual disclosure report by October 1 of every year.  The first annual disclosure report will be due October 1, 2023.

B.        If the lobbyist makes political contributions to a City elected official or a controlled committee for a City elected official, the lobbyist must file a quarterly political contribution report no later than January 1st, April 1st, July 1st and September 1st starting in 2023.

C.        If the lobbyist fundraises on behalf of a City elected official or a controlled committee for a City elected official, the lobbyist must file a quarterly fundraising activity report no later than January 1st, April 1st, July 1st and September 1st starting 2023.

10. What information does the annual disclosure report require?

The annual lobbyist disclosure report requires disclosure of the following information:

A.        The nature of the issues the lobbyist is trying to or tried to influence through lobbying of City officials.

B.        Identify each client and the amount of compensation received from each client for communication using any means with City officials for the purpose of influencing a municipal legislative or administrative action or decision.

C.        All campaign contributions and gifts to elected City officials.

D.        All fundraising activities conducted on behalf of city elected officials.

E.         All contributions or gifts to political campaigns.

F.         All contributions or gifts made at the behest of city elected officials.

G.        All contributions or gifts to political campaigns made at the behest of city elected officials.

H.        All contributions or gifts made to religious institutions made at the behest of city elected officials.

I.          All contributions or gifts to non-political organizations made the behest of city elected officials.

J.         All payments received by the lobbyist for services as a consultant to the City or any City agency.

K.        Any compensated work done for a political campaign of an elected city official.

L.         Past lobbying activity in the City.

11.      What happens if an unregistered lobbyist appears at a public meeting for the City and wants to make a presentation on behalf of his/her/its client?

Any individual, business entity or organization that meets the definition of a lobbyist is required to register with the City.  If an unregistered lobbyist appears at a public meeting of the City to make a presentation on behalf of a client, the lobbyist will be permitted to make the presentation upon stating, on the record, the following:

A.        The lobbyist’s full name, business address, and telephone number.

B.        The name, business address, and telephone number of any individual or entity by whom the lobbyist is employed, retained or engaged for compensation to perform lobbying services in the city.

C.        The legislative or administrative action of the city with respect to which the lobbyist has been employed, retained or engaged.

The lobbyist will be required to file the registration form and pay the registration fee and any penalty to the Clerk of Council upon completion of the presentation.

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