Tallahassee approves city lobbying reforms

Published: Jul. 14, 2022 at 12:14 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Tallahassee City Commission unanimously approved changes to its lobbying policies, including who can lobby for and against issues.

The commission also approved a $250 lobbying fee for each registered lobbyist doing business with the city.

There was originally no charge to register as a lobbyist and lobby for your cause.

“The issues of the past we’re not going to allow them to occur,” said Commissioner Diane Williams-Cox. “When you know better, you do better and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The city also unanimously approved a 10-year ban for lobbyists convicted of bribery, theft or honor services fraud.

“I believe that as a city we have had so little that we’ve been able to collect or track,” Williams-Cox said. “That’s why we’re looking at repealing that because it is not getting us the information that we need.”

Williams Cox said paid lobbyists can afford a fee to do business with the city, even calling for the fee to be as high as $500. Mayor Pro Tem Curtis Richardson submitted a substitute motion for the $500 benchmark but the commission settled on the lower number.

Commissioner Jeremy Matlow said the whole point of lobbyist registration is for the public to easily see who is lobbying the government and said the fee was inconsequential.

“We should make it easy for registration and provide enforcement action so we make it hard to break the rules,” Matlow said.

Williams-Cox had originally proposed a lobbying ban of 20 years for any lobbyist convicted of bribery, theft or honor services fraud.

“We’re conflating this with something good in our community. We need transparency. We have a career elected official that cost us some integrity,” Williams-Cox said.

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