A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) regarding general lobbying regulations questions. For exact language and legal requirements, view Portland City Code and City Charter.
What is the purpose of the City's lobbying regulations?
The purpose of the City’s lobbying regulations is to preserve the integrity of the City's decision-making process and avoid even the appearance of impropriety. To achieve this goal:
- Entities that engage in efforts to influence City officials must report their lobbying efforts to the public.
- City officials must disclose certain gifts from lobbying entities.
- Elected officials and bureau directors must publicly post their calendars of official business.
Except for post-employment prohibitions for certain City officials, the program is disclosure-based and does not put limits on any lobbying or advocacy efforts.
When did these regulations take effect?
City Council established requirements through lobbying regulations on December 21, 2005. Since April 1, 2006, the Auditor has accepted, reviewed, and published lobbying registrations and quarterly reports for required City official and lobbying entity disclosures on an ongoing basis.
Where can I find the disclosure reports?
Quarterly reports, registrations, and any voluntarily-supplied information are available to the public at any time by searching the public database.
Who is required to register and report?
- Lobbying entities that spend eight or more hours lobbying OR spend $1,000 or more lobbying during a calendar quarter must follow the regulations below. The specific requirements are:
- Register within three business days of reaching one of the above threshold. Registration information requirements include disclosing authorized lobbyists, contact information, and prior City employment. Lobbying entities remain registered for one calendar year and must renew registration each year to remain active.
- Report lobbying activities each calendar quarter in which lobbying entities meet or exceed the eight-hour or $1,000 threshold. The report includes the subjects of lobbying and description of contacts with City officials, the total amount of lobbying expenditures, and information about City officials benefited by expenditures in excess of $25.
- Elected officials must file quarterly reports document:
- Gifts, meals, or entertainment received from a lobbying entity or lobbyist in excess of $25, even if they have nothing to report; and
- Any donations or gifts of personal or real property to the City from a lobbying entity or lobbyist, even if they have nothing to report.
- Bureau directors and other unelected high-level City officials must file quarterly reports documenting:
- Gifts, meals, or entertainment received from a lobbying entity or lobbyist in excess of $25 only if they have received such gifts; and
- Any donations or gifts of personal or real property to the City from a lobbying entity or lobbyist only if they have received such donations
- City elected officials and City directors must post their calendars of activities related to official City business to their office's website each quarter. To access currently posted calendars, click here.
What is lobbying?
For the purposes of City lobbying regulations, "lobbying" means attempting to influence the official action of City officials. Lobbying includes time spent preparing emails and letters and preparing for oral communication with a City official. Lobbying also includes funds spent on grassroots or indirect lobbying that encourages others to lobby City officials.
Lobbying does not include:
- Time spent by an individual representing his or her own opinion to a City official.
- Time spent participating in a board, committee, working group, or commission created by City Council through approval of resolution or ordinance.
- Time spent by a City official or City employee acting in their official capacity for the City.
- Time spent submitting a bid, responding to related information requests, and negotiating terms on a competitively bid contract or intergovernmental agreement.
- Oral or written communication made by a representative of a labor organization that is certified or recognized, pursuant to ORS 243.650 et seq., as the exclusive bargaining representative of employees of the City of Portland, to the extent that such communications do not deal with actual or potential ordinances that are unrelated to the collective bargaining process, or implementation or application of any collective bargaining agreement provision.
- Formal appearances to give testimony before public hearings or meetings of City Council.
- Work performed by a contractor or grantee pursuant to a contract with or grant from the City.
- Time spent by any person holding elected public office, or their specifically authorized representative, acting in their official capacity.
What qualifies as an "official action"?
An "official action" is broadly defined as the introduction, sponsorship, testimony, debate, voting or any other official action on any ordinance, measure, resolution, amendment, nomination, appointment, or report, or any matter, including administrative action, that may be the subject of action by the City.
Are the registrations and reports available for public review?
All registrations and reports are public records. The Auditor's Office provides 24-hour access to register, submit reports, or view the latest quarterly statements and currently registered lobbyists and entities from the lobbyist registration program home page and publicly searchable database.
If a lobbying entity or member of the public does not have internet access, they may make arrangements to use a public computer in the City Auditor's office.
Has the program been reviewed and updated by City Council since implementation?
Yes. Most recently, Ordinance 187854, which City Council passed in 2016, clarified and updated the regulations to improve accuracy and understanding of program requirements. The Auditor's Office proposed changes based on best and leading practices in local lobbying regulations and involved lobbyists, transparency advocates, community groups, and City officials throughout the process.
Previously, two reports reviewing the program were submitted to City Council on November 15, 2006 and June 20, 2007. The reports gathered input from both stakeholders and the City Auditor and reviewed the implementation and effectiveness of the program.
Have additional questions? Please contact the City Elections Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-865-6503.