Lobbyist Filing Requirements
The Governmental Ethics Ordinance requires persons who lobby City government to register with the Board of Ethics and regularly file activity reports (or termination notices, where appropriate). Information submitted by lobbyists must be done using our Electronic Lobbyist Filing (ELF) system.
Who must register and report?
All individuals (except those individuals specifically exempted under §2-156-010(p) or -220 of the Municipal Code) who lobby a City agency must register and file activity reports with the Chicago Board of Ethics. This requirement extends to any individual who undertakes to influence any legislative or administrative action on behalf of another or as any part of his duties as an employee of another -- regardless whether such individual is formally designated as a lobbyist by his employer.
All lobbyists must register by filing electronically, on our ELF system, a Statement of Registration within five (5) business days of first engaging in lobbying activity and annually thereafter by January 20th. The registration statement shall be accompanied by a registration fee of $350.00 per person identified as a lobbyist in the Registration Statement. In addition to this registration fee of $350.00, there will also be an annual fee of $75.00 for each additional registered client after the first client. Payment is acceptable only in the form of certified check, cashier’s check, business check, money order or electronically through the on-line filing system. Do Not Send Cash. An incomplete Statement of Registration will not be accepted. Amendments to the registration must be filed within 14 days of any addition or substantial change to the information on record with the Board.
Note: individuals who lobby solely on behalf of a single, non-profit entity that employs them are exempt from all registration and client fees provided they show proof that their employer is organized under sections 501(c)(3) or (4) of the Internal Revenue Code, as amended.
Also, a Statement of Registration will not be accepted from any person who owes a fine to the Board of Ethics until the fine is paid in full.
Four times each year, by January 20th, April 20th, July 20th, and October 20th, registrants must file an Activity Report, electronically on the Board's ELF system. This report summarizes all lobbying activity in the previous calendar quarter. Even if a lobbyist had no activity during the reporting period, the lobbyist must file an activity report reflecting that.
The Activity Report consists of three parts. Part I and Part II must be completed by all registrants every calendar quarter. Part III must be completed for each client on whose behalf lobbying was performed, on whose behalf expenditures were made, or from whom compensation was received during the reporting period. Reports that are incomplete will not be accepted. A 30 day extension of time for filing an Activity Report can be obtained by submitting, not less than 10 days before the date on which the report is due, a written declaration of intention to defer filing.
When a registrant terminates the activity that requires registration, the registrant must file a Termination Notice and a final Activity Report that covers the period between the most recently filed activity report and the date of termination.
A Termination Notice received without a final Activity Report will not be accepted.
Fines and Penalties
Persons who fail to register or disclose lobbying activity as required are subject to fines of $1,000 per day until they register.
Registrants who fail to file Activity Reports or re-register (or terminate) by the required filing deadline are subject to a penalty of $1,000 per day until the reports are filed.
A person who retains or employs a lobbyist who has failed to register as required is subject to a fine between $1,000 and $5,000 for each offense.
Contingency Fees Prohibited
To employ, retain or serve as a lobbyist for compensation that is contingent in whole or in part upon approval or disapproval of any legislative or administrative matter is prohibited. Any person who violates this prohibition is subject to a fine of not less than $1,000 and not more than $5,000 for each offense.