L.A. Lobbying Law Alert
City Ethics Commission Authorizes Contributions from Lobbying Firm PACs
As you know, since the passage of Measure R in 2006, registered "lobbying firms" in the City of Los Angeles have been prohibited from making campaign contributions to candidates for City office. Because City law generally "aggregates" campaign contributions from an organization with contributions from its sponsored PAC, lobbying firms and campaigns have assumed that the prohibition covers contributions from a PAC set up by a lobbying firm.
These assumptions have been wrong. In an opinion which re-opens a potentially significant avenue of fundraising for City campaigns, the City Ethics Commission has just ruled that PACs maintained by registered City lobbying firms may contribute to City candidates, as long as none of the people who sit on the PAC's decision-making body are themselves registered City lobbyists. (LACEC Advice Letter No. 2011-61.) Pursuant to this advice letter, firm employees who are registered City lobbyists may submit recommendations to the PAC about buying a ticket to a fundraising event or otherwise supporting a City candidate, as long as the lobbyists do not have an official vote in the PAC's ultimate decision.
The LACEC advice letter is technically limited to the particular facts of the lobbying firm which submitted the request; namely, a firm with over 700 employees nationwide, the vast majority of whom do not work on City of Los Angeles matters. The perfect fit for this opinion is therefore the L.A. office of a national PR or law firm which already has a PAC, perhaps to support federal candidates. Smaller firms, firms whose employees are mostly City lobbyists, and firms which do not already have a PAC will have to determine on a case-by-case basis whether they fit within the facts of the LACEC advice letter; firms may even want to consider asking the LACEC for their own written advice.
If you would like to discuss whether your firm's PAC is now able to make contributions to City of Los Angeles candidates, or would like to discuss how your firm may go about setting up a PAC for this purpose, feel free to contact Jim, Brad or Jesse.
THIS ALERT IS INTENDED FOR GENERAL INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.