Cheryl Lombard

Valley Partership CEO Cheryl Lombard. (Photo by Mike Mertes, AZ Big Media)

November 30, 2017

Cheryl Lombard

In Phoenix, you may be a lobbyist and not know it

When you meet, call or text with the City of Phoenix director of planning and development or head of the Economic Development Department, are you doing so as a lobbyist who needs to register with the city clerk? The City of Phoenix says the answer is yes. 

As a result of an ordinance amendment effective July 1, 2017, a lobbyist includes anyone who is compensated — developer, architect, design professional — to meet with a head of a City of Phoenix department or with any person who serves on a City of Phoenix board, committee, commission or the city manager for the purpose of influencing official action, which could include support for a project. Compensation includes having an interest in a business or an investment.  

If this is you, you must register with the City of Phoenix clerk before you interact with these city officials and disclose yourself as a lobbyist each and every time you interact with them, including emails. You are also required to report, on a quarterly basis, any expenditures made for city officials or political contributions to city council members. Non-compliance carries penalties ranging from $1,000 per violation, a class one misdemeanor and potential suspension from lobbying; essentially a ban from interacting with the non-elected city officials with whom, for years, you likely have discussed your proposed and ongoing projects.  

One glaring problem with this ordinance is that, much of the time, developers are seeking information and guidance from department heads. Adding increased complexity and new reporting requirements to these interactions impedes the ability for responsible developers to easily ensure they are bringing the city the best projects.  

Valley Partnership does support registration of true lobbyists – those who are hired specifically to influence elected officials. However, we believe that meeting with non-elected city leaders should be encouraged, not hindered. We will work with the city (after registering and reporting, of course) in an effort to eliminate these new barriers. 

Cheryl L. Lombard is the president and CEO of Valley Partnership.