Office of the City Secretary

  Lobbyist Registration

Frequently asked questions

 

ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION
NON-REGISTRANT/LOBBYIST SYSTEM

  1. Do I have to file a quarterly activity report if I have nothing to report?

No.  Reports are only required to be filed if you have activity that must be reported.

  1. Is a non-profit organization requesting federal grant money from the city considered to be lobbying if the organization only communicates with city staff that are not city officials, even though the award of the grant money will ultimately be decided by city officials?

    No. Communications with non-city officials do not constitute lobbying activities. Under Section 12A-15.2(10) (A) of the Dallas City Code, lobbying is “any oral or written communication (including an electronic communication) to a city official, made directly or indirectly by any person in an effort to influence or persuade an official to favor or oppose, recommend or not recommend, vote for or against, or take or refrain from taking action on any municipal question.” If, after the application for federal grant money (which is considered to be a designated public subsidy matter) is posted on a city council committee agenda or a council agenda, the non-profit organization makes a lobbying contact with a city council member, then the organization (as the applicant in the designated public subsidy matter) must file a non-registrant disclosure statement within five days after the contact. See, Section 12A-15.7 of the Dallas City Code. If the non-profit organization has a paid lobbyist on staff (who receives compensation or reimbursement of $200 or more in a calendar quarter for lobbying activities), and that paid lobbyist communicates with a city official at any time in an effort to influence or persuade the city official to take favorable action on the application for federal grant money, then that paid lobbyist would be required to register as a lobbyist within five days after the start of lobbying activity for the organization. The non-profit organization would be the client of the paid lobbyist. See Sections 12A-15.3 and 12A-15.5 of the Dallas City Code.

  2. Is my company (which is a professional consulting firm) or my employee (who is both a project manager and the person responsible for making sales calls on municipalities) exempt from the new Dallas lobbyist registration and reporting requirements since no separate compensation is received for lobbying activities?

    Section 12A-15.3(1) and (2) of the Dallas City Code requires a person to register if the person receives compensation or reimbursement of $200 or more in a calendar quarter for lobbying. Under Section 12A-15.2(3) of the Dallas City Code, compensation includes any money, service, facility, or other thing of value that is received, or is to be received, in return for or in connection with lobbying services rendered, or to be rendered, including reimbursement of expenses incurred in lobbying. Compensation does not include a payment made to any individual regularly employed by a person if the payment ordinarily would be made regardless of whether the individual engaged in lobbying activities, and lobbying activities are not part of the individual’s regular responsibilities to the person making the payment. Therefore, if your company does not receive the above-described compensation or reimbursement in a calendar quarter for lobbying a Dallas city official, then it is not required to register as a lobbyist. Further, if a CEO, board member, or employee of your company lobbies a city official, but such lobbying is not part of that individual’s regular job responsibilities and only occurs incidentally, then those individuals do not have to register as lobbyists.

    If you have a staff lobbyist, however, who lobbies city officials as a regular part of his or her job responsibilities, regardless of whether the individual holds other responsibilities with the company and regardless of whether the individual’s compensation for those lobbying duties are paid for separately or are covered by the individual’s salary, that individual would have to register as a lobbyist. So if the employee is regularly assigned by your company to lobby city officials, which means to communicate with city officials in an effort to influence or persuade them to favor or oppose, recommend or not recommend, vote for or against, or take or refrain from taking action on any municipal question [see definition of  “lobbying” in Section 12A-15.2(10)(A)], and the employee receives compensation or reimbursement of $200 or more in a calendar quarter for those lobbying activities (even if such compensation is included in a salary that also covers other job responsibilities), then that employee would be required to register as a lobbyist and your company would be his or her client. Please note that any communications the employee has with a city official for the purpose of managing a project being performed by your company under an existing city contract would not be considered a lobbying contact that triggers registration requirements.
    Also note that under Section 12A-15.2(12), a municipal question means a public policy issue of a discretionary nature that is pending before, or that may be the subject of action by, the city council or any city board or commission. It includes, but is not limited to, proposed actions or proposals for action in the form of ordinances, resolutions, motions, recommendations, reports, regulations, policies, nominations, appointments, sanctions, and bids, including the adoption of specifications, awards, grants, or contracts. It does not include the day-to-day application, administration, and execution of city programs and policies such as permitting, platting, and design approval matters related to or in connection with a specific project or development.

  3. Are chambers of commerce and nonprofit entities required to comply with the registration and reporting requirements for lobbyists under Article III-A, Chapter 12A of the Dallas City Code?

    Section 12A-15.3 of the Dallas City Code requires a person who receives compensation or reimbursement of $200 or more in a calendar quarter for lobbying activities to register as a lobbyist and to report certain information regarding his or her lobbying activities. Section 12A-15.2(3) (B) of the city code specifically provides that “compensation” does not include payments to an individual regularly employed by a person if lobbying activities are not part of the individual’s regular responsibilities. Thus, compensation does not include an individual’s regular salary if lobbying is not part of the individual’s regular job duties.
    Consequently, the lobbyist registration and reporting requirements would only apply to an employee of a chamber of commerce or non-profit entity whose regular job duties consisted of lobbying activities, or to a chamber of commerce or non-profit entity that has been retained for lobbying activities and receives compensation or reimbursement of $200 or more in a calendar quarter for those activities. Persons who engage in occasional or incidental lobbying activities, but whose regular job responsibilities do not include lobbying, would not have to comply with the lobbyist registration and reporting requirements.

  4. If our company sponsors a table at an event and we offer up one of the seats to the chamber for elected officials, and a council member is seated at our table, do we need to count that as a meeting?

     b) If we are at a meeting and say hello to and/or introduce a council member to someone we know, must we count that as a meeting?

    c)  If we meet with a council member about utility construction in their district, must we log that meeting/contact?

    (a) I assume by “meeting,” you are asking if a lobbying contact occurred. A lobbying contact would only occur if any communication was made to the council member “in an effort to influence or persuade an official to favor or oppose, recommend or not recommend, vote for or against, or take or refrain from taking action on any municipal question.” See Section 12A-15.2(10) (A) of the Dallas City Code.

    (b) Please note that Section 12A-15.2(10) (B) lists certain types of communications that are not considered lobbying. Under Section 12A-15.2(12), a “municipal question” means a public policy issue of a discretionary nature that is pending before, or that may be the subject of action by, the city council or any city board or commission. The term includes, but is not limited to, proposed actions or proposals for action in the form of ordinances, resolutions, motions, recommendations, reports, regulations, policies, nominations, appointments, sanctions, and bids, including the adoption of specifications, awards, grants, or contracts. The term does not include the day-to-day application, administration, and execution of city programs and policies such as permitting, platting, and design approval matters related to or in connection with a specific project or development.

    (c) Please note that even if a lobbying contact occurred, it would not trigger the lobbyist registration and reporting requirements unless it was made by a person who received compensation or reimbursement of $200 or more in a calendar quarter for lobbying activities. See Section 12A-15.3 of the Dallas City Code. Also note that certain exceptions to the requirements for lobbyist registration and quarterly activity reports are set forth in Section 12A-15.4 of the Dallas City Code.

  5. As a utility company, if we are working with council member staff for customer concerns, do we need to log all of the communication?

    Members of a council member’s staff are not city officials under Section 12A-15.2(1) of the Dallas City Code, so communications directly with them are not usually considered to be lobbying. If, however, the contact with a council member’s staff is for the purpose of making an indirect communication to influence or persuade the city council member to favor or oppose, recommend or not recommend, vote for or against, or take or refrain from taking action on any municipal question, then such communication would be considered a lobbying contact that would need to be reported, assuming it is made by a person who is required to register as a lobbyist. See Section 12A-15.2(10) of the Dallas City Code.

  6. What communications with city officials constitute lobbying under the regulations? The regulations detail those communications that are not deemed to be lobbying, but we do not see provisions making clear what does constitute lobbying.

    Section 12A-15.2(10) (A) of the Dallas City Code defines lobbying as “any oral or written communication (including an electronic communication) to a city official, made directly or indirectly by any person in an effort to influence or persuade an official to favor or oppose, recommend or not recommend, vote for or against, or take or refrain from taking action on any municipal question.” Thus, all such communications are lobbying, unless specifically exempted by Section 12A-15.2(10) (B).

  7. Is a person required to register as a lobbyist if the person speaks with city officials on his or her own behalf or on behalf of his or her own company rather than for other companies/clients?

    Section 12A-15.3(1) and (2) of the Dallas City Code requires a person to register if the person receives compensation or reimbursement of $200 or more in a calendar quarter for lobbying. If a company does not receive such compensation or reimbursement for lobbying, then it is not required to register as a lobbyist. Further, if a CEO, board member, or employee of a company lobbies a city official, but such lobbying is not part of that individual’s regular job responsibilities and only occurs incidentally, then those individuals do not have to register as lobbyists. If the company has a staff lobbyist, however, who lobbies city officials as a regular part of his or her job responsibilities, regardless of whether the individual holds other responsibilities with the company and regardless of whether the individual’s compensation for those lobbying duties are paid for separately or are covered by the individual’s salary, that individual would have to register as a lobbyist and the company would be his or her client.

  8. Can a corporation, partnership, or other entity register as a lobbyist?

    A corporation, partnership, or other entity is required to register as a lobbyist if it receives compensation or reimbursement of $200 or more in a calendar quarter for lobbying. If it does not receive compensation for lobbying activities but has more than one paid lobbyist on staff that would be required to register individually, the corporation, partnership, or other entity may choose to register as a lobbying firm and include in that registration the names and lobbying contacts of its staff lobbyists, instead of having them register individually. See Ordinance No. 27834 (adopted by the Dallas City Council on April 7, 2010), which: (1) amended Section 12A-15.2(11) of the Dallas City Code to define “lobbying firm” to include “a person who has one or more employees that are lobbyists on the person’s behalf and the person is the client,” and (2) added Section 12A-15.3(b) which reads as follows:

     A lobbying firm that is not required to register under Subsection (a) of this section may register as a lobbyist with the city secretary if the lobbying firm has more than one employee who is required to register under Subsection (a). A lobbying firm that chooses to register under this subsection for all of its employees that are lobbyists, instead of having them register individually, will be deemed to be a “registrant” and “a person required to register” for all purposes of this article and will be subject to all requirements, procedures, and penalties applicable to a “registrant” and “person required to register,” as those terms are used in this article.

  9. If a corporation, partnership, or other entity is permitted to register as a lobbyist, is it necessary for each individual employed by the corporation who engages in lobbying activities to also register individually as a lobbyist?

     No. Section 12A-15.4(6) of the Dallas City Code provides an exception to lobbyist registration and reporting requirements for an “agent or employee of a lobbying firm or other registrant, provided that the lobbying firm or other registrant files a registration statement or activity report for the period in question fully disclosing all relevant information known to the agent or employee.” Also, see the answer to Question No. 9.

  10. Does incidental contact (such as contacting city officials to inquire about  matters unrelated to any specific procurement, or communicating with city officials in social settings, or responding to questions asked by city officials about matters unrelated to any specific procurement) constitute lobbying?

    A lobbying contact would only occur if any communication was made to a city official “in an effort to influence or persuade an official to favor or oppose, recommend or not recommend, vote for or against, or take or refrain from taking action on any municipal question.” See Section 12A-15.2(10) (A) of the Dallas City Code. Also, see Section 12A-15.2(10) (B) which lists certain types of communications that are not considered lobbying. Please note that Ordinance No. 27834 (adopted by the Dallas City Council on April 7, 2010) amended Section 12A-15.2(10) (B) to exclude from the definition of lobbying any communication “made in an oral or written response narrowly tailored to address an oral or written request by a city official for specific information.”

    Under Section 12A-15.2(12), a “municipal question” means a public policy issue of a discretionary nature that is pending before, or that may be the subject of action by, the city council or any city board or commission. The term includes, but is not limited to, proposed actions or proposals for action in the form of ordinances, resolutions, motions, recommendations, reports, regulations, policies, nominations, appointments, sanctions, and bids, including the adoption of specifications, awards, grants, or contracts. The term does not include the day-to-day application, administration, and execution of city programs and policies such as permitting, platting, and design approval matters related to or in connection with a specific project or development.
    Even if a lobbying contact occurred, however, it would not trigger the lobbyist registration and reporting requirements unless it was made by a person who received compensation or reimbursement of $200 or more in a calendar quarter for lobbying activities.
    See Section 12A-15.3 of the, Dallas City Code. Also, note that certain exceptions to the requirements for lobbyist registration and quarterly activity reports are set forth in Section 12A-15.4 of the Dallas City Code.

  11. Who has to register under the Dallas lobbying ordinance?

    Section 12A-15.3(1) and (2) of the Dallas City Code requires a person to register if the person receives compensation or reimbursement of $200 or more in a calendar quarter for lobbying.

  12. Specifically, does an employer (XYZ Company) have to register?

    An employer/company is required to register as a lobbyist if it receives compensation or reimbursement of $200 or more in a calendar quarter for lobbying. If the employer/company does not receive compensation for lobbying activities but has more than one paid lobbyist on staff that would be required to register individually, the employer/company may choose to register as a lobbying firm and include in that registration the names and lobbying contacts of its staff lobbyists, instead of having them register individually. See Ordinance No. 27834 (adopted by the Dallas City Council on April 7, 2010), which: (1) amended Section 12A-15.2(11) of the Dallas City Code to define “lobbying firm” to include “a person who has one or more employees that are lobbyists on the person’s behalf and the person is the client,” and (2) added Section 12A-15.3(b) which reads as follows:

    (b) A lobbying firm that is not required to register under Subsection (a) of this section may register as a lobbyist with the city secretary if the lobbying firm has more than one employee who is required to register under Subsection (a). A lobbying firm that chooses to register under this subsection for all of its employees that are lobbyists, instead of having them register individually, will be deemed to be a “registrant” and “a person required to register” for all purposes of this article and will be subject to all requirements, procedures, and penalties applicable to a “registrant” and “person required to register,” as those terms are used in this article.

  13. Can an employer register and list the lobbyists that work for it and their activities to the City of Dallas?

    Yes. Section 12A-15.4(6) provides an exception to lobbyist registration and reporting requirements for an “agent or employee of a lobbying firm or other registrant, provided that the lobbying firm or other registrant files a registration statement or activity report for the period in question fully disclosing all relevant information known to the agent or employee.” Also, see the answer to Question No. 13.