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Key Takeaways:

  • Under new laws in Chicago, individuals who engage in lobbying activities for compensation — including non-profit organizations — are required to register as lobbyists.
  • Chicago elected officials and employees will be explicitly prohibited from engaging in lobbying activities in Chicago and throughout Illinois.
  • The city will continue to consider more restrictions on lobbying by current and former public employees and additional disclosures for lobbyists in 2020.

Two new Chicago ordinances went into effect this year that will impact lobbying activity in the city. Beginning on January 1, 2020, staff of non-profit corporations who engage in lobbying activities are required to register as lobbyists in Chicago. Beginning in March 2020, a new ordinance will prohibit Chicago elected officials and employees from lobbying before any unit of government in Illinois during their tenure or employment for the city of Chicago. 

New Requirements for Non-Profit Organizations

Beginning January 1, 2020, individuals who seek to influence legislative or administrative action on behalf of a non-profit organization will be required to register as lobbyists if they are paid or receive any other form of compensation for their activities. This new rule will impact employees of non-profit organizations who engage in lobbying activities as part of their job duties, even if such activities are infrequent. 

Prior to the enactment of this ordinance, Chicago law stated that non-profit employees were not considered lobbyists and therefore were not required to register as lobbyists if they sought to influence legislative or administrative actions on behalf of their organization. 

Now, under the new law, employees of non-profit organizations are required to register as lobbyists and pay a $350 registration fee. Non-profit organizations are concerned that the fee and other requirements will make it more difficult to advocate on behalf of their members and cause financial strain on their organizations. The Chicago Ethics Board has the ability to waive or reduce the lobbyist registration fee for individuals who a non-profit organization. 

Lobby Ban on Chicago Officials and Employees

Last month, the Chicago City Council passed a ban on Chicago elected officials and employees acting as lobbyists during their tenure as officials or employees of the city. The ban will go into effect in March 2020 and applies to lobbying in Chicago as well as any other unit of local government in Illinois. 

By enacting this ordinance, the Chicago City  Council is mirroring the actions of their counterparts in Springfield, where state lawmakers have recently introduced several bills aimed at improving transparency among state officials and employees and increasing transparency for lobbying activities. 

This ban comes after state lawmakers have found themselves embroiled in a variety of scandals and federal investigations and less than two weeks after state lawmakers approved new disclosure requirements for lobbyists. 

To ensure that you are in compliance with lobbying disclosure requirements in Chicago, the state of Illinois, or any other jurisdiction, reach out to MultiState’s compliance team.