Lobbying FAQ's

Am I a Lobbyist?  A Step-by-Step Guide 

Who Is Not a Lobbyist?

The following is representative of situations where a person is NOT lobbying. As always, this summary is only an overview. For authoritative guidance on specific questions, consultation with the Board of Ethics is recommended.

  • A restaurant owner who applies to the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection for food and liquor licenses.
  • An accountant who responds to a Department of Finance request to produce his client's business records for purposes of a tax audit.
  • A supplier of goods who responds to an RFP (a Request for Proposals)
  • A software developer who responds to a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) issued by the Department of Innovation and Technology
  • An attorney who appears before the Department of Administrative Hearings on behalf of a client to contest a notice of violation.
  • An individual who calls the Department of Planning and Development to inquire whether a particular business activity is authorized at a specific location.
  • A property owner who testifies before the City Council Committee on Zoning against a proposed building project in his neighborhood.
  • A lawyer, architect or other representative of a building developer who testifies before the Chicago Plan Commission in support of a proposed development, and who is identified as testifying on behalf of the developer.
  • A constituent who calls her alderman to request an additional stop sign on her block.
  • A group of developers who, at the invitation of a department head or alderman, tours a neighborhood.
  • An engineering consulting firm that seeks from City employees a status report on a client's project or license application.
  • An attorney who files a notice of appearance in a case in which the City is a codefendant.
  • An attorney representing the City's adversary in litigation who comes to the Law Department to try to work out a compromise and reach a settlement.
  • An attorney who represents a client before the Zoning Board of Appeals.
  • A consultant hired by a manufacturer who assists the company in responding to an RFP (Request for Proposals). (The consultant receives a fee if the company's proposal is accepted.)
  • A property owner who, on her own behalf, calls the Department of Planning and Development to urge the creation of a TIF (Tax Increment Financing district) in her area.
  • A citizen who calls the Department of Buildings on behalf of her mother to make an inquiry about a notice her mother received about a building violation.
  • A lawyer who calls on behalf of a client to seek information about a notice the client received from the Department of Public Health about a food preparation violation.
  • A lawyer who files a client's application for a liquor license and asks office staff some questions about the procedures and timing.
  • A citizen who, on behalf of a neighborhood group, speaks to a meeting of the Community Development Commission, and urges that it adopt a particular plan for the neighborhood. The citizen states her name and identifies the neighborhood group she represents.
  • A citizen who urges an alderman to do something to create more parking in the ward. The citizen is a member of a neighborhood group seeking more parking, but was not asked by the organization to act on its behalf.
  • Constituents who meet with their alderman to oppose a halfway house in the neighborhood; the constituents are in the process of forming an informal organization for this purpose.

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