Councilmember Nick Licata
Council President Richard Conlin
Councilmember Tim Burgess
Councilmember Jean Godden
Councilmember Tom Rasmussen
COUNCIL PASSES LOBBYIST REGISTRATION
New law will make government more transparent
SEATTLE— The Council, today, unanimously passed a new law that requires registration for paid lobbyists. Councilmember Nick Licata, the law’s sponsor, said, “This will make the process of attempting to influence City government much more transparent. The public deserves broad access to information concerning lobbyists.” The new law would require paid lobbyists to register with the Ethics and Elections Commission. Lobbyists would be required to reveal what issues they are petitioning the City about, who is employing them, and how much they are being paid.
Council President Richard Conlin said, “It is vital that Seattleites have as much access as possible to information on how City government makes decisions. This measure is another building block in constructing a more participatory political culture in the city.” Councilmember Tim Burgess, a co-sponsor of the legislation, said, “This is excellent legislation that will shine light on the lobbying activities of private-sector paid lobbyists and government employees who are hired as lobbyists.” Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said, “Opening up the process helps to ensure that the decisions the Council makes are in the public’s interest.” Councilmember Jean Godden said, “As a former journalist, I’m a staunch and longtime believer in openness in government. This is an important first step toward transparency.”
The new law requires paid lobbyists who lobby elected officials or their staff to register with the City if they lobby four times per quarter or more. The City of Seattle currently does not have a lobbyist registration ordinance, unlike Washington State, King County and most major cities in the United States. Seattle Ethics and Elections will enforce the ordinance, and will create an online directory for easy public access. Violators could be fined by up to $5,000.
From the time the Mayor signs it, the law will go into effect in 180 days, or 30 days after the Ethics and Elections Commission approves rules, whichever comes first, in order to allow Ethics and Elections sufficient time to develop the reporting forms, a website, and rules.
Councilmember Licata said, “This new law will encourage open government and citizen participation in that government.”